For retired Maj. Gen. Carla Hawley-Bowland, her 32-year career as an Army doctor was a labor of love.
Hawley-Bowland, 60, who now lives in El Paso, originally owed the Army four years of service in exchange for a scholarship that put her through medical school.
She ended up staying on another 28 years, and along the way, became the first female doctor to become a general in Army history.
"I liked what I was doing," she said. "I loved taking care of soldiers and their families. I'm still doing that."
The native of Casper, Wyo., will be honored this week by Colorado State University. She has been named a distinguished alumna from the university's College of Natural Sciences. She earned her bachelor's degree in
physical science there in 1974, which was one of the first steps in a long and successful career.
"Maj. Gen. Carla Hawley-Bowland is very deserving of this prestigious honor," said Jan Nerger, dean of Colorado State's College of Natural Sciences. "She has demonstrated exceptional and sustained leadership, as well as exemplary service and outreach."
Hawley-Bowland is an obstetrician and gynecologist, and she continues to practice medicine as a Red Cross volunteer doctor at Beaumont Army Medical Center. That's a hospital that she has strong ties to, having served there for a total of 11 years, including two years as commander in 2000 to 2002.
Even while a general, she kept her medical skills sharp and continued to perform
She teaches vaginal surgery -- her forte -- at Beaumont. She also still does cesarean sections and helps the midwives when needed, she said.
Hawley-Bowland never expected to become a general. She earned her first star in 2004 when she was promoted to brigadier general and then got her second in 2006 when she became a major general.
She loved all the jobs the Army gave her and "just worked away," she said.
"I never had a bad assignment," she said.
In particular, Beaumont was her favorite hospital. She especially liked its strong ties to the community.
"It's name is 'medical center,' " she said. "But it wasn't a place with its nose in the air."
Hawley-Bowland said she was honored to break barriers and become a general.
"It gave women hope that they could move up in the Army," she said. "I was always treated very fairly in the Army. Women get equal pay for equal work, so they don't have to worry about that in the Army."
During her career, she was nicknamed "Mom" by the soldiers she served with and the residents she trained to become doctors.
She got the nickname because of her warm, caring, friendly attitude.
She still gets letters addressed to "Mom," she added.
Her last Army assignment was as commander of the Northern Regional Medical Command and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
When she retired last year, she moved back to El Paso with her husband, retired Col. Warren Bowland, a West Point graduate and a general surgeon.
She earned her medical degree in 1978 from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. She also has a master's degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.
Her awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Humanitarian Service Medal, the Army Surgeon General's Physician Recognition Award and the Army Surgeon General's Award for Military Academic Excellence.