When she was young Julie Maher always wanted to be a nurse. But instead, she first became a surgical assistant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
After a few years, she and her family moved to Racine where she had trouble finding an operating room position. Finally, she took a job with Ascension All Saints in the Women’s Health department in labor and delivery.
After having five children and getting divorced, Maher decided to finally pursue nursing.
“One of the main reasons was financial but I took it as a challenge for myself,” she said. “I was new to the whole raising children as a single mom thing and I thought, ‘It’s now or never and I need to do this for myself.’”
She also wanted to be a role model for children and teach them that pursing your passion pays off. She received her associate’s degree in nursing from Gatway Technical College and started working as a nurse in 2012.
She then went on to receive bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing and a doctorate in nursing education from Grand Canyon University. Three or four years ago she started teaching at Carrol University and then Marquette University.
She sought out Dr. Frank Hicks when she heard Carthage College was starting a new nursing program because she wanted to be part of it. She led the first class of students through their clinical rotations, and now as seniors she’s teaching them in a leadership course.
Her email signature is a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which she said inspires her teaching, “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
“Because being intelligent and knowing your skills and memorization, all the sciences involved in nursing is one thing, yes, that I believe is very critical and very much necessary,” she said. “However I don’t believe you can be a good nurse without character and empathy. That you need to relate to your patients and your patients’ family. I think that is also important.”
Maher will get to watch the first class of Carthage nursing students graduate this spring. The program has grown from around 30 students in the first year to 200 enrolled in the program now.
She was nominated by her daughter Addy, who is attending Regis University in Denver and is a doctoral student in Creighton University’s occupational therapy program.
“Julie always goes above and beyond for all her patients, devoting her time to making sure they are comfortable and have everything they need to make their stay more enjoyable,” Maher’s nomination reads. “She also has a gift for never slowing down, as she is now educating the future nurses of our world. She makes sure that the care patients receive is top quality, safe, and compassionate.”