Allied Health Department Chair dies unexpectedly

By Jaime De Haro

Allied Health Department Chair Monica Thurston, age 55, died at home alongside family members on Feb. 18.

Dorothy Hendrix, a decades-long friend and former colleague, said Thurston’s family and loved ones were aware that Thurston was dealing with two major immunosuppressive diseases at the time she died, and that she had her knee replaced recently. 

Campus News has not been told her cause of death.

Thurston was with the Allied Health program for ten years, and was going on her eleventh.

Allied Health focuses on Medical Assistant and Health Information Technology programs.

Thurston began working for Allied Health in 2013 while it was still under the Life Sciences

department before it became a separate department in 2015.

In 2016, she was voted in as the chair of the Allied Health Department.

On Apr. 12, Campus News reported that Thurston was awarded for dedicated leadership by the LACCD Black Faculty and Staff Association in the article “Monica Thurston’s leadership garners Black Faculty and Staff Association award” by Juan Calvillo.

President Dr. Alberto J. Román said, “When it comes to Allied Health, it’s hard not to think of Thurston. The leadership she exemplifies is a credit to ELAC’s quality programs,” according to Campus News’ reporting on Apr.12.

“Monica had a motherly instinct to help others. She always wanted to do her best for all her students and colleagues. She was an advocate for success.

“She was very giving to her students along with their kids. She just had that knack to support others. She also brought in a lot of funding for grants for student resources,” Hendrix said.

Hendrix worked alongside Thurston as a Curriculum Specialist in Health Information Technology until she retired in Dec. 2023, but had known Thurston since 1988.

In the Campus News Apr. 12 story, Thurston said Hendrix was a mentor who helped her become who she was in Allied Health.

Student Darlene Madrid said she owes her academic and career pursuits to Thurston.

“I knew Monica for 10 years. We were just in an advisory meeting on Zoom the Friday before her passing. She was always pushing me to fulfill my associate degree.

“Now, I owe it to her to attain that degree. When I finished the Health Information Technology program, she referred me to jobs in Los Angeles County. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have the opportunities and benefits I have today,” Madrid said.

Hendrix said that something Thurston would always tell her students was, “Be aware of what

you’re doing and who you’re doing it for, but always give.”

Thurston told Campus News in the Apr. 12 article that she informed students that all the things she asks them to do is to make them better people in the end.

Monica Thurston is survived by her father, sister Marlene Tweedy, two brothers Myron and Mark Thurston, three nieces Ayanna Tweedy, Yasmine Tweedy and Maya Thurston, two nephews Jason Payne and Myles Thurston, godson Ray Nunnley Jr., extended family and friends.

A celebration of life is scheduled for Dr. Thurston on March 8, 2024, at East Los Angeles College at the G3 Ingalls Auditorium in the Foyer Room from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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