Westmont Magazine Delivering Babies from Around the World
Laura Schamber Watters ’06 arrived at Westmont open to pursuing either medicine or law. “I got plugged into neuroscience right away and thought about doing research,” she says. “Then I served on the Potter’s Clay medical team, assisting an ophthalmologist whose cataract surgery restored vision to people who were completely blind. One woman had never seen her grandchildren before. At that moment, I knew I had to go into medicine and work with patients.”
She planned to focus on neurology when she enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. But during the neurology rotation, Laura found it difficult to watch people suffer progressive, slow declines. Instead, she enjoyed being in the operating room and using her hands. “I could work with others to help fix a patient with a definitive problem,” she says. She discovered her passion in obstetrics and gynecology. “I love to be present at the most amazing, intimate moments of life—and it involves surgery,” she says. She did her residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Today she works in Sacramento for a large, private obstetrics-gynecology practice that serves Medi-Cal patients. “We treat low-income people, including refugees, and many don’t speak English,” she says. “I love this work and desire to serve this population. We take every insurance plan, we’ll see anyone, and we’re very busy. We’re not federally funded; we’re just private doctors who work really hard to keep our doors open.”
She delivers babies and does surgery at Methodist Hospital and became chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department in 2018. “Methodist takes care of patients who lack good insurance or who can’t pay,” she says. “It’s a wonderful organization.”
During her residency, she spent a month in Santiago Aticlan, Guatemala, in a remote area surrounded by two volcanos. She served Mayan communities by performing C-sections and training midwives, who deliver most of the babies. Laura also talked a lot about nutrition as a diet heavy in beans, rice and tortillas can cause gestational diabetes. “Since Potter’s Clay, I’ve wanted to serve those who are less fortunate,” she says.
Laura describes Westmont as the best four years of her life and appreciates the professors who cared about her as a person. She met her husband, Kyle Watters ’06, in college. They both wanted to pursue their careers—Kyle earned a doctorate in physics at Stanford— and spent four years apart. They got married in time to move to Nebraska for her residency, and Kyle taught physics at Creighton University for four years.
Now a professor at Sacramento State, Kyle will direct its new planetarium. The position will provide opportunities to interact with students, a priority for him. He will also share his expertise and work in pulsar stars and gamma rays. Laura and Kyle live on the same street as his parents, as do Kyle’s brother, Cody ’08, and his wife. “We all support and love each other,” Laura says.
After finishing a master’s degree in biology at Sacramento State, Cody joined the biology faculty there. Like his brother, he focuses on spending time with students. A graduate of an exotic animal training and management program, he worked at the Sacramento Zoo during graduate school as the head carnivore keeper.
Laura appreciates the incredibly diverse population in Sacramento. “My patients come from everywhere, and I get a wide view of the world and people’s lives,” she says. “It’s one of the fun things about my job. I love providing good birth experiences, especially for women who’ve had difficult deliveries back home.”