“KWC gave so much to me. I got an incredible education and was well prepared for medical school. I want to help my alma mater, and I want students today to have the same opportunities I did.”
As a child, Debra Bunger was curious about what made people tick. At age 7, she decided to become a psychologist. As she got in her packed car to drive to Kentucky Wesleyan to begin her freshman year, her dad suggested that she become a psychiatrist instead. “More doors will open to you,” he explained.
She says that by the time she arrived in Owensboro from her home in Louisville, she was convinced her dad was right. “I changed my career path, and psychiatry has been the perfect choice for me,” she shares.
A Brown Scholar and chemistry major, she earned her medical degree at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, completed an internship at Cabrini Medical Center in New York City and a residency at Boston University.
“I had great professors at KWC,” she recalls. “I was safe, and I was cared for. Faculty and staff were interested in me as a person. I didn’t realize what a great experience I had until I was in medical school and heard others talk about their experiences at other institutions. I was already grateful, but the comparisons made me more so.”
Debra shares that her career has included all kinds of psychiatry. Her first job was with the Palo Alto Medical Center in California, where she was responsible for opening the psychiatry department at a satellite clinic in Fremont. She was the adult program director for many years and in 2017, closed her private practice. She is now a locum tenens (filling temporary positions in various facilities) and is currently practicing at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in LaGrange, Ky., and at Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville, Ky.
She says she is pleased she can help people make real changes in their lives. “It is a great feeling to hear ‘thank you’ from my patients.”
Debra is now a resident of Owensboro and says it is the best place she has ever lived. “I have called some really beautiful cities home, but there is no place like Owensboro. People are nice and fair and go out of their way to be helpful and kind. Some cities may have more beautiful scenery, but they don’t have the kind of people who live in Owensboro. It’s the Owensboro Way, and I love it.”
When she is in Owensboro, she enjoys attending alumni events. “The Alumni Office staff does a phenomenal job. Events are great, and I enjoy reconnecting with former classmates. I encourage others to attend events when you can, and don’t miss the President’s Gala. It is a remarkable event.”