Sister act

By The Health News Team | July 28, 2023
Tami Vahalik, Sami Higuera, Holly Lang and Morgan Migliore of San Diego

Left to right: Morgan (Monreal) Migliore, Elisa Bechtel (not of Sharp HealthCare), Tami Vahalik, Sami Higuera and Holly Piper Lang.

Sometimes friends become family, but in the case of Sharp HealthCare employees Tami Vahalik, Sami Higuera, Holly Piper Lang and Morgan Migliore, these “sisters” have become lifelong friends — and coworkers.

Tami, Sami, Holly and Morgan were all members of Alpha Sigma Pi — “Sigma” for short — sorority when they attended the University of Redlands. Now, the sorority sisters are proud members of the Sharp HealthCare family. Though their graduation dates span nearly three decades, the bond of sisterhood and friendship have only strengthened over time.

While each of the women studied different subjects in college and now work in various roles across Sharp, they remain steadfast to the three tenets of their sorority: friendship, constancy and fidelity.

In honor of International Day of Friendship, we asked these four ladies about the impact their sisterhood has on their lives today.

What is your role at Sharp HealthCare?

Tami: I work in the Emergency Department of Sharp Grossmont Hospital as a unit clerk on overnight shifts. In short, I answer phones, page doctors and attempt to keep the unit organized. I have been here now for over 5 years and I still love it! I like the variety — no 2 nights are the same. It keeps me on my toes.

Sami: I am a development associate for Grossmont Hospital Foundation (GHF), which raises funds for Sharp Grossmont Hospital. My role is facilitating event logistics, volunteer management, auction item solicitation and day-of-event operations for GHF events. I have the pleasure of working with the fabulous people on our event planning committees, donors and participants for our golf tournament, regatta and gala.

Holly: I am the grant writer for Grossmont Hospital Foundation. I have the pleasure of working with multiple departments to secure both small and large grants from local and national foundations, corporations and government agencies. These grants help to purchase equipment, supplies, and other care or treatment services that our community has come to depend upon from Sharp Grossmont and Sharp HospiceCare. Most recently, a primary focus has been to secure funding for the new Moore MountainView Hospice Home in Poway and the Sharp Grossmont Neurosciences Center. The best part of this job is not only learning about all the good work occurring at the campus but also being able to share good news with a department when we receive funding for a project.

Morgan: I’m the administrative services coordinator for Sharp HealthCare Foundation (SHF). I work closely with our Finance Department to ensure that foundation funds are properly distributed and allocated throughout the system. I am the “money manager” for SHF’s special events. I also assist with managing the planned giving team’s data administrative needs.

How did you come to work for Sharp?

Tami: Sami! We joke that she's Sharp’s number one “recruiter.” My mom also worked for Grossmont Hospital when I was little, so it was like coming home. My educational background doesn’t quite match what I do, but I wanted night shift work and something dependable. I love that every night in the Emergency Department is different. I also love my co-workers, and that my job allows me the flexibility to pursue my other interests.

Sami: I started working for Sharp in 2010 after finally listening to my mother’s advice — which I was stubborn about listening to. My mom, Hedy Haun, worked for Sharp for more than 35 years and started her career at Sharp Grossmont Hospital before working for Sharp HealthCare’s information systems. I spent a good amount of my childhood walking around the Brier Patch campus, where her office used to be, learning about Sharp from watching her work. She’s still my go-to for any historical questions that I need clarified.

Holly: Would anyone be surprised if I shared that Sami Higuera told me to apply for the grant writer position when it became open? I have been a grant writer for 15 years now and was working in the arts and culture industry before coming to Sharp. I was comfortable in my last position and was nervous to explore new opportunities, but Sami assured me that working for Sharp was well worth it, and I clicked with the foundation's director. I started with Sharp during the height of COVID-19 restrictions in August 2020 which added an unusual element. But it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made, both professionally and personally.

Morgan: Sami was recruiting and had posted the job listing on our Alpha Sigma Pi San Diego alumni Facebook page. I applied and here I am. I’m still loving it!

What do you value most about your experience in your sorority?

Tami: When I was in school, I had patronesses, or mentors, who were amazing role models. They would take the time to sit, talk and listen to us to help us make a decision instead of telling us what to do. This philosophy has followed me into my life beyond undergrad in the way that I approach my work life and service. Then I became a patroness. Over the years, I formed bonds with Sami, Holly and Morgan, along with many other of my sisters. I may be from a different decade, but when you are true sisters and have a true friendship, age doesn't matter.

Sami: Being in a sorority taught me teamwork, leadership, when to sit back and how to delegate — no micromanaging for me. It also helped me learn skills with project and time management. Most of all, I value the relationships that I have made. No matter what years we joined, we still have a common bond of being sisters that has lasted long after graduation.

Holly: I joined Sigma after I came back from studying abroad sophomore year. At the time, my Redlands friend circle had shrunk. Sami, who used to be my dorm neighbor, mentioned in passing at the cafeteria that I should rush during the next season. I was a bit skeptical because I never considered myself "sorority girl" material, but Sigma felt like home immediately. There are some negative associations out there about being "Greek," but I never experienced that with Sigma. More than anything, I valued the sense of community and connection.

Morgan: Joining Alpha Sigma Pi was hands down the best choice I made in college. Having such a sense of being “home” was priceless. My sisters are, to this day, some of my closest friends, even after more than 13 years. We can pick right back up where we left off. Being a member of the sorority taught me the importance of community involvement, friendship and sisterhood.

How has your experience, both in the sorority and being active alumni, affected your professional career?

Tami: As a Sigma, we are all individuals, and we pride ourselves on everyone having a uniqueness that brings something special to our organization. Our motto, "Not for ourselves alone," brings those qualities together to form a bond that celebrates us as individuals and as a group. Having additional outlets beyond work helps remind me to stop and enjoy all that is around me, and to continue to learn new things. The diversity of our organization is what lends to sisters helping sisters in all aspects of life.

Sami: Putting on events and fundraising as both an active member and alumni has helped me in my role at the foundation. Additionally, the networking within our circles has been a huge help in learning about other career interests from sisters. Being a government major, I didn’t think that I would end up working in health care, let alone philanthropy, but I am so happy that I did!

Holly: I was both the fundraising chair and treasurer for multiple semesters. I think both of these positions helped solidify my love of budgeting. A big part of putting together a quality grant application is working with the department to help develop strong project budgets for funder review. Post-award, it is important to make sure approved funds are spent appropriately per donor intent.

I'm pretty “Type A,” so anything having to do with compliance has a big place in my heart. I even went back to school for my MBA in 2012 to learn more about finance. Although being a strong writer is paramount for grant work, my MBA has probably been more useful to my career within the last 10 years.

Morgan: I feel that my time spent as treasurer helped guide me into my current career of accounting and finance. I have always been good with numbers, so it seemed like a role in which I could thrive. As an alum, I was twice in charge of planning our annual alumni luncheon. Each role that I served in helped prepare me for working in the corporate world upon graduation — learning how to work cohesively as a team, stepping out of my comfort zone and accomplishing a common goal.

How have you maintained a connection with each other over the years?

Tami: Sami is like an actual little sister to me; she keeps me young. We like to try new places to eat, bake during the holidays and, most of all, we share a love of our adventures in our nerdy world of comics and cats. Morgan and Holly fit right in too. All my sisters make my life so much fuller. They have been with me through so many challenges and celebrations in my life. Choosing to become a Sigma is one of the best decisions I ever made while at school.

Sami: There are some things, like being in a sorority, that just keep you connected. I am fortunate enough that we all grew up in San Diego and made strong connections because of our hometown. Each of us had unique experiences when active in the sorority that bonded our friendship.

After graduation we stayed connected by living close to each other and having shared common interests. We go to concerts, beer festivals, rodeos, dinner and more together. We have three additional sisters, with more coming, in the San Diego area that get together often. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we would gather on Zoom for happy hours and game nights so we could still hang out and laugh about what crazy things were going on in our lives.

Holly: There was a 5-year period in my twenties when I lived in Long Beach and did not maintain my Sigma connections that well. I stayed in touch with Sami but had to reintroduce myself to the San Diego Sigma group when I moved back home. Luckily, once a Sigma, always a Sigma, and I picked up right where we started decades ago. I was even in Morgan's wedding this spring. That's the best thing about being in a sorority — no matter how much time has passed, you always have a seat at the table.

Morgan: There is a large group of sisters here in the San Diego region, so we try to get together as often as we can — with weddings, baby showers, housewarmings, birthday celebrations, happy hours and more. Thank goodness for social media, which kept us updated, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you for letting us share our story of friendship and sisterhood that is extended by The Sharp Experience. We’ve been through celebrations, pandemics and everything in between. Sharp is one more thing to bring us closer. Working in various departments and locations at Sharp has broadened our networks. Now let’s see who we can bring in next.

Learn more about careers at Sharp HealthCare.

Tami Vahalik

Tami Vahalik


Tami Vahalik is a unit clerk in the Emergency Department of Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Sami Higuera

Sami Higuera


Sami Higuera is a development associate for Sharp Grossmont Hospital Foundation (GHF).

Morgan Migliore

Morgan Migliore


Morgan Migliore is an administrative services coordinator for Sharp HealthCare Foundation (SHF).

Holly Piper Lang

Holly Piper Lang


Holly Piper Lang is a grant writer for Grossmont Hospital Foundation (GHF).

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