A born leader, Maria Magdalena B. Rabago RN, BSN, BSMT, MA, cultivated that innate skill early on as the eldest of five children. Serving as a role model for her younger siblings, she knew from a young age that she wanted a career that would enable her to help others. She has also found continued motivation throughout her education and career from her various teachers and mentors, as well as from her mother and her grandparents, all of whom were incredibly hardworking individuals. Her mother and grandmother were both entrepreneurs in the Philippines and her grandfather came to Hawaii in 1927 and found success working at Pearl Harbor.
Drawn to helping developmentally disabled children, Ms. Rabago first earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing and a Bachelor of Science in medical technology. She feels strongly that education makes all people equal, and, to that end, she has sought to further her education throughout her career. In 1984, she obtained a Master of Arts in management, supervision and health care administration from Central Michigan University, and she has also been certified as a qualified intellectual disability professional. Ms. Rabago has gone on to continue her studies and is currently pursuing a doctorate.
In 1997, Ms. Rabago founded Manawa Lea Health Care Services, which is a home and community-based health care service under the Social Security Administration in the state of Hawaii. They work with elderly and disabled individuals who may need extra care, but don’t want to live in an assisted living facility. Additionally, they have various community programs, such as community learning services and their adult day health program, which helps people learn the necessary skills to help them remain independent and live normal lives with their families. In her day-to-day work, Ms. Rabago is responsible for the vast majority of their administrative duties, from managing staff to being on-call 24 hours, seven days a week.
Attributing much of her success to her patience, humility, knowledge and passion, Ms. Rabago has made a name for herself for the focus and determination that have followed her throughout her career from her start as a home health nurse. In addition to her responsibilities, she has been involved in a variety of professional organizations over the years, including the Division of Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, where she has also been a regular donor for many years. She has also acted as a support to doctors doing medical mission work. Looking toward the future, Ms. Rabago has begun making plans toward retirement with a goal to dedicate more of her time to helping students attend school through involvement with a scholarship program.
Hoping to leave a legacy as a good person, Ms. Rabago has received a number of honors and accolades for her excellence in the field of health care and nursing. Recognized early on for her achievements, she was named a Rising Young American in 1983 and, more recently, she has been featured among Who’s Who of Professional Women. In 2004, she had the privilege to be invited to attend a presidential dinner with former President George W. Bush. Ms. Rabago is incredibly proud of what she has accomplished as a woman in health care from her education to her work to her family. To young and aspiring professionals, she would advise that you do whatever makes you happy and to share what you have with others.
Noting that family is incredibly important to her, Ms. Rabago has been happily married to her husband, a retired Navy veteran who now runs a farm in Hawaii, for many years. She is the proud mother of three children, two daughters and one son. Both of her daughters have gone on to become doctors, one in family medicine and another in internal medicine. Her son is something of a jack-of-all-trades and has done work in the culinary industry, as a mechanic, and within Manawa Lea Health Care Services. Having accomplished much over the course of her career, Ms. Rabago is proud to have made a difference in so many lives.