A Collaborative Project Between Community Members and Drake University Students

Jose Olivencia


I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jose Olivencia and hearing his story. Jose is a 69 -year-old surgeon living in Des Moines, Iowa and has led an inspiring life that is packed with unique and unforgettable experiences. I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to share his story with you.

MendozaJose spent the first 25 years of his life living in the medium sized town of Mendoza Argentina. Living with his father, mother, younger brother, and two younger sisters Jose has good memories of his childhood. After some exposure to the medical world when Jose was in high school, he decided he wanted to become a surgeon and to be trained in the United States. While taking English classes to prepare for his medical exams at the age of 18 Jose met his wife Betty. After many years of dating they married and moved to the United States to pursue Jose’s surgical training.

Jose has been a surgeon in the area for 44 years, and opened the first vein surgery center in Iowa.  Although surgery and teaching have kept Jose busy he always makes time to spend with his three children, two grandchildren, and travel the world with Betty. He is not looking forward to retiring, but is ready to volunteer and spend more time with the family he adores.

After two one-hour long interviews that occurred at Jose’s Vein Center, the following pages reflect the conversations had with minimal rewording. The first interview was our initial meeting and we focused on the broad overview of his life. Betty was also present during this first interview and her perspectives are included, particularly in the married and family life sections.  The second interview focused on more in-depth topics related to his career, family life, travels and life reflections.

Going into this interview, I was very nervous, but I have loved getting to know Jose and Betty. Jose was very open with me and is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. The strength, courage, patience and willingness to always go on an adventure that Jose demonstrates is outstanding. I hope you enjoy reading Jose’s story as much as I have enjoyed getting to know him.

Early Life



  1. Benet Conlin

    You do a good job capturing his personality, even though there is little edits there are still edits but you keep it in away that he would probably say it.

    I think adding blocked quotes on pages where there is none would be nice.
    Upon first reading a quote and then reading it again in the narration I got a bit thrown off and by the second time I noticed I skipped the quotes. Though it is kind of neat to see the blocked quote in the narrative but I think if it’s the full sentence just drop the one in the narrative. The readers have already read it and will just skip over it.
    I noticed under the wedding band picture it says image- do you mean imagine?

    The photography is nice and fits nicely into each section.

    • Elizabeth Stuart

      Loved your oral history! It was really interesting to read. His life really is fascinating and you do a great job writing it to engage the reader. Although I’ve never met him, I still feel like he’s telling me a story–like I can really hear his voice coming through.

      I entirely agree with everything that Benet said. She had some great critiques. I loved the quotes integrated into the narrative, but I agree, maybe they could be tightened up a bit?

      I also particularly enjoyed the “unusual trip” section. I wondered if you might be able to draw that out a little more. It seemed like that section could use a little more info or story, if that makes sense?

      Also, this is a small fix, but just making sure you saw it — your name is still on some of the drop down menus, didn’t know if you wanted it there or not

      Overall, it was really great though

  2. Lourdes Gutierrez Najera

    Dear Brooke, Overall the page looks great. I think your story is compelling and I like the integration of the quotes. I don’t see a problem with the block quotes since I think it breaks up the long text on the pages. I also thought your section on travel really highlighted Mr. Olivencia’s non-professional life. It was an enjoyable part of the narrative that I thought highlighted other aspects of his humanity. As far as modifications and/or improvements I would suggest the following: 1) watch for redundancies. There are sentences and phrases that are repetitive. Remove those. Also, I think that at times combining sentences you will find that redundancies are cut. I have revised the first and second sections for you to see how you might approach this. 2) think about resizing the very large images you have and if you can incorporate some of his photos.

Leave a Reply to Benet Conlin Cancel reply