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Local Celebrity Spotlight Meet Susie Ulloa

Meet Susie Ulloa, a Gainesville resident who works at The Cancer Center as a Breast Cancer Navigator. She is also a breast cancer survivor and author, Susie is often seen at local events for The Cancer Center at NFRMC, or for her husband’s company, The Best Restoration.

Where are you from and when did you move to Gainesville and why?

I was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia (South America). I moved to the United States in 1999 with my husband, Jorge Villalobos, and children due to security reasons. We initially settled in Fort Lauderdale and came to Gainesville in 2004, the place we call home in every sense of the word.

How did you meet your husband?

Through a common friend, who actually had dated him. I met Jorge when I was 12 and he was 18, so we truly didn’t have anything in common except for the fact we both knew this person. Our paths crossed several times throughout the years until we were finally ready for each other, and we have been together ever since.

Why is your last name different from your husband’s?

In Colombia, many women from my generation chose to keep their last names. It’s just a matter of choice.

How do you relax?

I truly enjoy my monthly massage and facial sessions “me time,” but any quality family time is all I need to relax and recharge.

Susie Ulloa with her husband Jorge Villalobos

Where do you like to go for a weekend getaway and why?

The beach, Saint Augustine where we book through Airbnb or Tampa where we stay with our daughter. They are close enough to get there fast but provide a complete change of scenery and the perfect getaway.

Susie with her mother and sister growing up in Bogota, Colombia (South America)

What do you listen to in your car?

Eighties music on satellite radio or the morning show on KTK locally. Sometimes I use my own playlists and use the shuffle feature to surprise myself with every song: all kinds of music from different times, it is a lot of fun!

What was your first job and what did you learn from it and how much was your first paycheck for?

I worked in retail during the Christmas season in Bogota, Colombia. It was a children’s clothing store called “Pares y Nones”, I can’t even remember how much I got paid, that tells you it wasn’t anything impressive. It must
have been in the 9th or 10th grade….

What is in your fridge right now?

Milk, eggs, cheese, bacon, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, fruit, watermelon, butter, cream cheese, coffee creamer, arepas (Colombian cornmeal patties), salad dressing, wine, beer and spiked sparkling water. A lot of frozen meat, along with frozen Latin treats and ice cream.

What is your favorite thing to snack on?

Silky Smooth Dove Dark chocolate, Land O’Lakes Colby cheese or almond butter that I snack on with the “to-go packets” as part of my ketogenic diet.

From Susie’ s early years in Colombia

If you had $5000 to investment what would you do with it?

I would open an IRA and save it for retirement.

Do you have a favorite quote?

The best view comes after the hardest climb.

Who inspired you as a child?

My parents, the bravest people I know, to whom I owe everything I am, especially the meaning of unconditional love.

What was the best advice your parents ever gave you?

They gave me such great advice: to be honest and stay true to myself and my roots. To work hard because it always pays off. To love generously and unconditionally, knowing that love is stronger than everything.

What is your favorite thing to do locally?

Burger night at Loosey’s in Haile Plantation, we meet our friends there every Wednesday and it is so much fun!

What is your favorite movie and why?

The Pelican Brief, a legal, political thriller involving secret agents, government, and journalists. Julia Roberts ad Denzel Washington at their best and a “totally nineties” movie.

What are your favorite meal and adult beverage?

Pasta carbonara and Moscato (anything Italian will do though). I also enjoy spiked seltzer water, much more figure-friendly.

What have you always wanted to do but never done?

I have had a life goal: to write a book so I could tell my story. Another dream is to open a clinic focusing on children and women’s health to provide comprehensive primary care at no cost to the public. I have achieved my first goal and my book (“Winning my Battle”) will be published in a few days. The book is about my breast cancer journey. I wrote it as a way to help other women going through a similar experience. It is a recollection of my own experiences but also has some basic breast cancer information to help patients understand the diagnosis and treatment, so they know what to expect. Now, I have to continue working on my other dream and hopefully, I will open the clinic in the future.

What gadget can’t you live without and why?

My Keurig coffee maker, I can’t function without my morning coffee. I love the Grande Kaffe Toasted Coconut flavored coffee with half and half. It’s the best way to wake up every morning. It is very special to me because it was a present from my husband, so it still brings me joy every day.

What is your must-have beauty product?

AG hair care products (shampoo, conditioner, mousse, and paste), a required part of my everyday routine. I love the results and they are very affordable too.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t sweat the small stuff! It will all be fine in the end, so believe in yourself and keep working hard.

What is the one bit of luxury you can’t live without?

Not much of a luxury but I love my skin care products (Dermalogica), so I consider them and “investment”, they are well worth it.

If you won the lottery and could build any style house what would it be?

I would like a mix between Victorian and American, I am not a big fan of ultra-modern houses, I prefer classic style construction.

What is your favorite room in your home and why?

The big room which includes the living room, a small dining area, and the open kitchen. It is perfect for our family life but also very accommodating for entertaining guests.

What is your favorite clothing store?

It would be a tie between Ann Taylor and The Loft, I think they know me by my first name there.

What is your favorite TV show and why?

ER, a medical TV series that became one of the most successful dramas in the history of television. It was full of medical content mixed with every day human issues, I miss seeing it, but I am grateful for the DVD.

What is the most romantic thing your husband has ever done for you?

Several moments come to my mind: the most beautiful serenade the night before our wedding (very traditional in Colombia). Our trip to Jamaica for our 20th wedding anniversary where we had the time of our lives. Our first cruise we took with our children and a group of friends; it was our way to celebrate life after I completed my cancer treatment. More recently, he got me a beautiful necklace for our anniversary and took the time to find the most perfect necklace for me.

What was your first car, what do you drive now, and what would be your dream car?

My first car was a 1994 white Mazda coupe (it was a stick shift). I loved it because it was my first car, I must have been 23 years old. It was small enough to make it easy to drive but that’s all I needed. I eventually traded it for a station wagon which was much more family friendly. I currently drive a 2018 Audi Q3 and absolutely love it. I truly don’t want to change it. But if I had my dream car it would be a new, deep blue Ford Mustang.

Susie’s first car was a 1994 white Mazda coupe. Now she drives a 2018 Audi Q3