Michelle has always dreamed of becoming a nurse and was able to fulfill this dream at Shepherd Village. She recalls receiving a warm welcome from the Receptionist as she entered Shepherd Village as a new graduate in 2007. That small genuine interaction gave Michelle a sense of warmth and belonging, where she could see herself grow and create meaningful relationships with others. Over those 15 years, she provided excellent care to residents and their families, formed friendships, and discovered a strong sense of support among her colleagues. She found it rewarding to help others without expecting anything in return because she wanted the best for those she helped. She was familiar with connecting with residents and their families and staff to ensure quality standards were met, including delivering excellent care. As of August 2022, Michelle advanced her career and became the Quality and Clinal Education Manager at Shepherd Village. Nonetheless, Michelle strives to accomplish the same goal in this new role.
Michelle finally understood her mother’s teachings when she became a mother. She remembers calling her mother after giving birth to her first child and saying, “I love you. I love you.” At that moment, she finally understood what her mom felt as unconditional love, a love like no other. She felt fortunate to have experienced love in many ways—through God, her family, her children, her family dog, and her husband.
Michelle and her husband have been together for 22 years, and she says the secret to their life together is patience and understanding that they are both individuals with different perspectives in life. They found balance in their relationship as her husband is a risk taker, and she hesitates when faced with new opportunities. Michelle recalls her wedding day as the day she wishes to relive when she is having a bad day. Her most fond moment of that day was walking down the aisle and seeing her partner, feeling all his emotions as she walked toward him, and was excited to spend the rest of her life with him. Later that day, they drove off into the sunset in a 1964 Chevy Impala he had restored as a hobby. More recently, he restored a 1959 Chevy Impala and made it into a convertible they now enjoy with their children.
A mom of three beautiful children, married for 12 years, career-driven, and has many hobbies—how does she balance it all? Michelle makes time for the people and the things she cares about. Life has not always been that simple for Michelle growing up in a developing country. She grew up playing with sticks, rocks, and mud on the streets with her older sister. Sadly, her father died when Michelle was in high school. She promised herself that she would not disappoint him but make him proud. Through that promise, she has found solace in raising her children well, spending time with her loved ones, and is dedicated to excelling in a career she enjoys.
Michelle found an excellent way to focus on her mental health during the Covid-19 lockdowns. She developed her creativity and connected with her family and friends by learning to ride a bike and arranging charcuterie boards. She connected with her loved ones while maintaining social distancing protocols creating unique designs with her charcuterie boards and dropping them off. Although she has experienced some hardships, she continues to enjoy what life offers and treats others respectfully. Ironically, Michelle used her first paycheck when she started at Shepherd Village to adopt a teacup chihuahua named Chico, who unfortunately passed away when she began her new role in 2022. Chico was very special to Michelle as he commemorated the start of her journey at Shepherd Village.
She has recently discovered the benefits of self-reflection and found what makes her truly happy. She now focuses on her health and well-being to live longer and be with her family. She enjoys travelling with her family to warm destinations, including Cuba, Aruba, and Mexico, despite her fears of heights and being in an airplane. However, the fear she faces when travelling is overcome by the beauty and essence of the places she travels. Michelle works hard to provide her children with opportunities she did not receive when she was younger. She hopes her children will study hard as “Education could never be taken away from you.” Even if her children are unsure of what they want to focus on in life, she wants them to explore. She is hopeful that they will experience life to the fullest. If she could tell her 20-something-year-old self some advice, it would be: be wise with your money and do anything possible to better yourself.
Michelle Defante encompasses the three Cs in life: she is caring, creative, and compassionate.