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Dr. Victoria Mary Stevens

Doctor Victoria Mary Stevens is the first Native American Indian woman to earn a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1976 from the University of Arizona, College of Medicine. She holds the distinction of being the first Native American Indian woman to receive a medical degree in the State of Arizona.

 

Born in Globe, Arizona in 1951 to George and Sara Hawkins Stevens. Mr. Stevens was a member of the San Carlos Apache tribe. Mrs. Stevens was not. She arrived in San Carlos in 1946 while serving as a registered nurse in the Indian Health Service. Dr. Victoria Mary Stevens is a graduate of Globe High School, Class of 1969. She attended Holy Angels Catholic School in Globe until her graduation from the 8th grade. She moved on to Globe High School and became a member of the National Honor Society, the Junior Class League, the Latin Club, the Girls Athletic Association, (GAA). At a young age, she knew what she wanted: “I decided in high school, sophomore year, that I wanted to be a psychologist. A teacher said, ‘psychiatrists make more money.’  Therefore, I wanted my M.D. [medical degree]. “  In 1968, her Junior year, she became an Exchange Student and lived in Alcorta, Argentina and attended the Magisterio Teachers’ School and learned Spanish and became fluent in the Spanish language. Dr. Stevens graduated from their Escuela Normal Nacional [National Normal School] with high honors.

Dr. Stevens returned to San Carlos and lived on the family’s ranch on the Reservation. And she completed her high school education at Globe High School. She often said that her pride in her Native American Indian culture and language and living a ranch life on her Reservation, the daughter doing the work of men, taught her many important lessons that continued to sustain her life on and off the Reservation. It didn’t occur to her then to realize today that her education, her high honors, her ranching and equestrian skills with horses and cattle, and not fearful of the hard and rough and dirty work demanded of her by her brothers and the men on the Stevens ranch, would also make her an important role model for young women like her. She takes great pride in knowing that she has influenced the careers of women. Time progressed, and Dr. Sevens held on to her dreams and goals of becoming a physician.  

As a young girl, Dr. Stevens became the San Carlos Rodeo Queen, and in 1970, the Tucson Rodeo Queen, Fiesta de los Vaqueros. She attended the University of Arizona in 1969-1970 and was a high-achieving student at Wellesley College in Massachusetts from 1970 to 1971. Dr. Stevens returned to the University of Arizona to earn her Bachelor of Science degree, With Distinction. In Biology. She also received the University of Arizona’s Robie Medal as their Outstanding Senior Woman. In 1973, she entered the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine as a Mead Johnson Scholar, becoming the first Indian woman to earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree in 1976 from the University of Arizona, College of Medicine. That distinction adds to her being the first Native American Indian women to receive a medical degree in the State of Arizona.

In 1983, Dr. Victoria Stevens was awarded the Tanner Award by the University of Arizona, becoming the first Native American indigenous woman physician to be recognized for her dedication and service to her people. She completed her physician’s internship and residency in general surgery at Maricopa County General Hospital in Phoenix. Dr. Stevens also completed her orthopedic surgery residency at the Phoenix Orthopedic Residency Program and in 1987, was declared Board Certified to practice orthopedic surgery in the United States.

Specializing in hand and foot surgery since 1984, Dr. Stevens initially pursued private practice with her husband, Dr. Jody Dagget, M.D., of Benson, Arizona, at the Eastern Arizona Orthopedic Clinic, the former public health clinic at the Gila General Hospital in Globe. In the years 1992 to 1997, Dr. Stevens held hospital consultant and medical affiliations at the Gila General Hospital in Globe; the San Carlos Indian Health Service Hospital on her Apache Indian Reservation; and with the Cobre Valley Community Hospital in Globe. By 1999, Dr. Stevens was named the hospital’s Chief of Staff, and her patients came from within Gila County and other regions of Arizona to seek her advice and counsel and came away with knowledge and information and learned how much of an expert she is in the treatment of ailments affecting bones and joints and muscles. Sports injuries and bone tumors and bone cancers and replacement operations became her specialties too. Dr. Steven’s primary speciality, however, is hand and foot surgery and repair. She counsels and treats such a variety of patients: male and female college and high school athletes on and off her Apache Indian reservation; ranch hands; construction workers; participants in rodeos throughout the State and on a variety of Indian reservations; diesel truck drivers; bus drivers; golf instructors; baseball and football coaches, to name a few. Many of her patients are Spanish-speakers. Her bilingual skills in Spanish-English have made a big difference in her treatment of the young and the elderly from the Mexican/Mexican American/Latino areas of the Globe-Miami region. She fulfills a great need in the medical field and in a rural area where bilingual surgeons like her are in demand. Each patient shares the common ailments dealing with joints and muscles and bones in hands and feet and in the lower extremities.

In 2002, Dr. Stevens was recognized along with several American women surgeons in the National Institutes of Health video, “Women are Scientists.” She was the only indigenous Native American Indian woman featured. Dr. Stevens remains proud of her membership with the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Board of Directors 2015-2020. She served as Chair in 2020.

In 2014, Dr. Victoria Mary Stevens was honored and recognized for her service to her communities of Globe-Miami, San Carlos, Peridot, Whiteriver, and the Claypool, Arizona areas. She was inducted into the Globe High School Hall of Fame 2014 at a prestigious dinner and in an elaborate setting at the Globe High School gymnasium. What made the evening memorable is that Globe High School was celebrating its Centennial, 1914-2014. In attendance were the Globe Public School administrators, superintendents, faculty, staff, Globe High School alumni members, the Globe High School Band and many friends and family members from Dr. Steven’s high school Class of 1969 and from her Class of 1976, University of Arizona’s College of Medicine.

Over a 38-year medical career of treating patients, Dr. Stevens remained true to her concerns: that her clients/patients would be those from the working class: those who struggled to meet their daily obligations of work. Her idea would be that she could provide them with the best care possible and in doing so, improve their working lives simply because they were as deserving as others.    

 

Dr. Victoria Stevens retired from private and public medical/orthopedic practice in 2020. She remains informed, reads current medical journals and remains fresh and knowledgeable in knowing the new ways of repairing and correcting bone and joint ailments. She continues to be a medical consultant, and is a member of the Board of Directors, San Carlos (Arizona) Health Care. Her spouse, Dr. Jody Daggett, also retired from his medical practice. However, he remains the Chief of Medical Staff for the Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center in Globe-Miami, Arizona. They maintain their home in Globe and continue to make important medical contributions to their local rural communities.