Goodtracks retires from SUHC

Jennifer Goodtracks stands alongside past co-workers Myrna Jacobsen, Sheryl McManus, Corliss Taylor, Patricia Torres, Marge Barry, and Sharon Cook following her presentation of gifts at her retirement party. Goodtracks worked alongside these ladies for many years at the Southern Ute Health Center prior to her retirement.
Psychotherapist Jennifer Goodtracks wears a brand-new Pendleton blanket she received as a gift from Southern Ute Tribal Council and gives her thanks to all who attended her retirement party on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the Multi-Purpose Facility.
Divine Windy Boy | SU Drum
Divine Windy Boy | SU Drum

Long time psychotherapist bids farewell 

Psychotherapist Jennifer Goodtracks prepares for retirement after 35 years of service to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Indian Health Service and the community. Employees of the Tribe gathered for a farewell event on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the Multi-Purpose Facility to share food, good company and memories made with Goodtracks. She began working for Indian Health Services in 1987 and was stationed at the Southern Ute Health Center, not only working to benefit to the Tribe but also serving other tribal entities as well.  

Goodtracks began working for the Tribe as a teen through the Youth Employment Program. She worked within the Southern Ute Head Start, KSUT Tribal Radio, Pino Nuche, and the Southern Ute Health Center. Goodtracks was also a night attendant at the Peaceful Spirit Residential Treatment Center working as a Southern Ute Police Reserve Officer.  

Reflecting on the beginning of her career at the Southern Ute Health Center, Goodtracks gave good remarks to the team that was established there at the time. “When I started my job at the clinic there was a great group of people who were very helpful, very encouraging and also very, you know, honest,” Goodtracks said. “I learned a lot, you know, from the professionals that were at the clinic because I worked among the doctors, the dentists, the eye clinic people, and then my supervisor Dr. Myrna Jacobson, at that time.”  

“I think that a 35-year career at one place is not for everyone – I thought you know coming back to the Southern Ute Tribe, it was a huge goal of mine,” Goodtracks said. “Give back because the Tribe has been really good to me in terms of an education.” 

Goodtracks started her educational career at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla. and began studying in the nursing program. As time passed, she started to become more involved in psychology courses and eventually decided that counseling was a better fit as she personally believed it was a better route to healing people. Following her graduation, Goodtracks returned to Ignacio. 

“My mom always said, you know, if you’re going to take a job, do the best that you can at whatever job you can because it does give you a paycheck and to be humble about that,” Goodtracks said. She was hired as a Mental Health Professional at the Southern Ute Health Center in June of 1987 and has been working there since.  

Goodtracks became a recipient of the Indian Health Service “Outstanding Customer Service” award on May 1, 2015, and during her 35 years of service worked to complete her master’s degree. As a Southern Ute tribal member and elder, Goodtracks has helped the Behavioral Health Department to have a better understanding and respect for Southern Ute culture, according to Behavioral Health Manager, Mary Trujillo Young, Ph.D., Goodtracks was a great educator within the department.  

She also gave recognition to three individuals who were the driving force in her journey through education and eventually her career choice as well. “My late mother [and] the late Lorraine Duran who was a tribal member and has been a nurse for the clinic, and the late Shirley Frost who is also a tribal member and was a medical records person,” Goodtracks said. “Those three ladies have been a foundation for pushing education and career–doing the job that you are passionate about; I think they were the driving force.” 

Transitioning into retirement, she is looking forward to spending more quality time with her family, specifically her husband, children, and extended family. “Spending more time with my young adult kids–because you know they kind of sacrificed their mom to this job,” Goodtracks said. “And to be able to spend more time with my husband as well, and my extended family members.”  

“But I am also excited that I am going to have more time to be creative in terms of sewing and beading,” Goodtracks said. “If anybody knows me, that’s something I am really passionate about.” 

Young gave her best regards to Goodtracks in her retirement. “I have enjoyed working with and learning from Jennifer so much,” Young said in an email. “I will miss this daily contact and laughter, but I am happy she will be able to spend more time with her family and contribute to the community in different ways.”  

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