Success Runs in the Family

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2019, the university and Alumni Association are honoring the Strickland – Hembree Family with the Legacy Award.

The awardee family is anchored by two Strickland sisters, Mary Pat and Kathryn, who both graduated from the UMKC School of Medicine and entered the field of ophthalmology.

Mary Pat Lange graduated from the School of Medicine’s six-year program in 1985 and has served the Lawrence, Kansas community for more than 25 years as an ophthalmologist and senior partner at Lawrence Eye Care Associates.

Kathryn Ann Hembree graduated in 1986 and founded Northland Eye Specialists, focused on providing comprehensive family eye care.

Kathryn Ann’s daughter, Kathryn Night, a second-generation Roo received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and philosophy in 2009 and is a graduate of the UMKC Honors College. She works in finance in New York.

The women of the Strickland – Hembree family spoke with us recently about their career paths.

Mary Pat Lange
Mary Pat Lange (M.D. ’85)
Mary Pat Lange

You were one of the first doctors in the U.S. to use a laser cataract machine. What benefits does it have over traditional cataract surgeries done by hand?

I believe it makes surgery more controlled and more predictable. The laser offers the ability to correct astigmatism (blurred vision from irregularly shaped cornea) at the time of cataract removal. It allows the rapid performance of all corneal incisions with high accuracy and provides a real-time image of the cataract’s size and depth, allowing for precise and easier removal.

Kathryn Ann Hembree
Kathryn Ann Hembree (M.D. ’86)
Kathryn Ann Hembree

When you and Dr. Susan Carney founded Northland Eye Specialists, did you face adversity as two females starting an office?

There were times in our early years that discrimination and borderline sexual harassment occurred. I think as women it took a little while for people (patients and other colleagues) to accept that we were, in fact, competent. Remember, this was 30 years ago. But it didn’t take long for our practice to take off and, happily, those days are in the past.

Kathryn Hembree Night
Kathryn Hembree Night (B.A. ’09)
Kathryn Hembree Night

How did you wind up working in finance?

During college, I pursued a variety of internships to get practical experience working in different fields. I worked with my mother in her ophthalmology practice. I also spent two summers in New York, first interning for the District Attorney in Brooklyn and later working as a litigation paralegal at a law firm. At the law firm, I was working on a large securities litigation matter and the experience was my first real exposure into finance. I found myself eager to learn more about this type of work.

About the Alumni Awards

The Strickland – Hembree Family will be honored at the 2019 UMKC Alumni Awards on March 15. Proceeds from the event will support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards events have raised more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for students.