2018 Carlow Laureate Diana Lynn Pakstis, MBA, BSN, RN, class of 1988 and 1998
Diana Lynn Pakstis, one of the 2018 Carlow Laureates, graduated from Carlow University in 1988 as business management major and worked in the business world for a year before feeling called to a different career because of her Mercy values.
“The values of mercy, service, hospitality, discovery, and sacredness of creation all play a role in my daily life,” Pakstis says. “It was these values that led me to change my path from business to caring for others through the nursing profession.”
Pakstis earned her associate degree in nursing from Community College of Allegheny County and returned to Carlow to earn her bachelor’s in nursing in 1998. After earning her BSN, she worked in clinical research, first at Contract Research Organization, Bailer Research, and then at the University of Pittsburgh as senior research review coordinator/manager of the Institutional Review Board.
“Mercy, service, and hospitality are at the core of what we as nurses do every day,” she says. “These same values of self discovery and religious sacredness have also impacted me personally in the career choices I have made. I have had many opportunities to make more money or work in areas that may be difficult to live out my faith. While many have struggled with these issues, I have relied on my faith and those core values that Carlow instilled in us as young undergraduate students.”
Currently, Pakstis is the Divisional Operations and Transplant Program Director the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her accomplishments, she has developed a translational research program for the Division of Infectious Diseases’ transplant program at Pitt.
As a self-professed small town girl who came to the big city for the first time when she arrived at Carlow as an undergrad, she credits one person in particular for having a big impact on her life.
“One of the first people I met [at Carlow] was Sister Sara Marie Healy,” Pakstis recalls. “She was an amazing woman. She inspired me to try new and different things I would have never thought I could do.”
Pakstis remembers listening to Sister Sara Marie tell stories of the things she had accomplished in her life, and was amazed at all that she had done.
“She motivated me to be more adventurous,” Pakstis says. “She made me believe I could do whatever I wanted. She was a fun-loving, spirited woman ahead of her time and the type of woman that I aspire to be.”
What Sister Sara Marie taught her is reflected in the advice that Pakstis would offer to current students.
“I would tell students to be in the moment, live the experience, and realize the opportunities a Carlow education provides,” she says. “Education helps one think, form and fortify new ideas, and build upon them to give back to the world. Without my Carlow education, I wouldn’t be the person I am today or a leader in healthcare.”