Usha Kota, BS, MT(ASCP) Retires after more than 32 years

By Lynn McCain | November 10 2020

Congratulations to Usha Kota, BS, MT(ASCP) on her retirement following 32 years in Pathology! Usha began in Pathology in 1988 in the blood bank, moving to flow cytometry in 1989. In 1990, she was promoted to senior technologist, then flow cytometry supervisor in 1994.  In 2005, she was promoted to laboratory supervisor of Hematology and in 2012, she became the administrative manager of the combined hematology/coagulation/flow cytometry/bone marrow laboratory. She held that position until 2019 when she transferred to the NCRC to become the administrative manager for the hematopathology (flow cytometry and bone marrow), histocompatibility, and clinical cytogenetics laboratories, where she served until her retirement on October 31. 

Over the years, Usha has overseen many moves and merges of laboratories, installation of new and more advanced equipment, and lean-inspired workflow changes. “My ability to help others cope with the many changes over the years has been my strongest achievement,” said Usha. At her Zoom retirement party, Mary-Jane Liu, known as “MJ” to her friends, stated, “Your love and care, experience and knowledge cannot be replaced. You embody hard work and dedication. You are the best!  You inspire me with your passion for patients and the team. You treat us as your family. We will miss that.”

Tom Morrow, Administrative Manager for Clinical Operations, reflected, “Usha, you are the most versatile person I have ever worked with. You were open to every new challenge. You are a model for how to manage a lab and people, from quality to finance to compassionate leadership. We will miss you!” One of Usha’s skills was her ability to teach what she knows to others.  “I was interested in Clinical Flow Cytometry and Usha’s expertise and generosity with her time helped me to learn important things that were not part of my education – like budgets, calculating turn-around times, quality control,” Dr. Daniel Boyer gratefully expressed. “Her professionalism, care, and expertise will be missed, but we are happy that she will have more time to do the things she wants to do.”

Sandalwood elephants.Dr. Riccardo Valdez, Director of Clinical Pathology, has known Usha since he was a 2nd-year resident. “She was a teacher, mentor, and when I left U-M, a friend.  She gave me these two sandalwood elephants when I left U-M in 2006, and I have carried them with me through moves to Arizona, two houses, and back to Michigan. These elephants remind me of Usha as they symbolize wisdom, loyalty, and memory. Usha is a wise leader, loyal to her team, her leadership, and the department. I will remember her through these elephants. Elephants are also a symbol of good luck and I wish you good luck in your retirement!”

For those following in her footsteps, Usha had some sage advice, “I would say never give up, and keep doing your best at all times.  Keep the chin up when you have disappointments, and remember the experience so you can empathize when others experience the same.  But also, be proud when you achieve! Understand how you did achieve, and always make a point of turning around and helping others to reach their goals and helping them to succeed. This department has always been loyal to its employees, and the grass is definitely always greener. I have heard from so many staff who have left and gone on to other hospitals, how much respect they have gained for how we run our labs. There are so many intangibles with working for UM, and so many more opportunities than one may realize in this vast institution with the education, background, and training we have in this field! “

Now that she has retired, Usha is looking forward to doing the things that she put off over her career. She looks forward to spending more time with grandchildren, going to Florida every winter, taking walks on the beach, finishing her numerous needlework projects, reading books, watching movies, and traveling.  “We love our life here in Ann Arbor,” stated Usha, “and will be here in the spring and summer, and will definitely find time to meet up with all the friends I have gained over the last 32 years!”

Congratulations, Usha, on your retirement and we wish you the very best!