Meet Alumna Kathleen Soltys
“I could see the difference between the nurse who had a degree and one who had a diploma, and I knew I wanted to have that difference.”
Early in her nursing career, Kathleen married an RCMP officer and began moving with him from one detachment to another. When their first son was born, she was living in a sleepy rural town, working half-time and aspiring to a degree in nursing. “I couldn’t have gotten more education any other way than AU,” she says. Classroom courses were an hour’s drive away — a commute that didn’t fit well with taking care of an infant son.
“With the Bachelor of Nursing, I was able to earn my degree at home, with my family, on vacation… It was amazing.”
As Kathleen’s family kept moving, she kept taking courses. After earning her post-RN bachelor’s degree, she dove into AU’s brand-new-at-the-time graduate nursing courses. She was also managing a birth control centre when she saw a job ad for a new program, the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).
She applied, and soon she was one of the first members of a team of nurses who care for victims of sexual assault and gather assault evidence for police. She became the manager of SART in 2001, which was also the year she became a member of the first grad class for AU’s Master of Health Studies.
Kathleen continues to manage SART, and in 2013 she received a major award from CARNA for this work. Meanwhile, her full-time job is actually managing immunization. When the H1N1 flu was at its peak in 2009, Kathleen oversaw the work of more than 1,200 people.
She attributes AU with helping her to develop solid managerial skills. For example, the groupwork she did with classmates helped her to excel at working in teams who can’t always meet up in person — a common work environment nowadays. “AU has captured that very well,” she says.
“I enjoyed my time at AU,” she continues. “I haven’t studied for a few years, and I think it’s almost time to go back. It’s a great way to learn.”