Tracy Stahl first started college at Pittsburg State University in 1985 as a bright-eyed, energetic freshman majoring in Marketing.

But she wasn’t meant for that.

After completing her bachelor’s in 1989, followed by her MBA in Business Administration in 1990, she changed paths to pursue something completely different: a nursing degree.

Inspired by a nurse who took care of her ill father in the hospital, and fueled by the desire to make that same difference with other patients and families, she enrolled at PSU again — this time in the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing.

“That’s when everything changed for me,” she said. “I personally observed the nursing care that my father received from one particular nurse who was so caring and compassionate with my father, and he made a difference for my father and our family in my father’s last days.”

She earned her BSN in 1994 and took a job at Ascension Via Christi Hospital, delivering hundreds of babies and caring for thousands of patients in her 15 years in labor and delivery, nursery, postpartum, pediatrics, and medical-surgical nursing.

Stahl also trained new, novice graduate nurses.

“I developed a passion to teach the students who were on my floor during their clinical rotations,” she said.

Again inspired, she returned to school to earn her MSN with the goal of teaching at the college level. After graduating in 2009, she began practicing as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), and in 2010, the opportunity arose for her to teach at her alma matter while maintaining an “on call” practice.

Since then, she’s spent her days training students to become nurses. They have gone on to careers at hospitals across the country.

Stahl wasn’t quite done earning degrees. In December 2018, she earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), the terminal degree for advanced nursing practice required for a tenure-earning teaching position at PSU.

“I feel a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and relief,” she said.

Cheryl Giefer, director of the School of Nursing, said the school is fortunate to have Stahl.

“Not only does she have years of clinical experience she can share with her students, she also is a role model and inspiration to them to keep learning and growing in their profession,” Giefer said. “We’re very proud of all she’s achieved.”

A family thing

Stahl and her husband, Greg have two daughters enrolled at PSU: Aubri is pursuing a degree in Computer Information Systems with an emphasis in System Design and a minor in Web/Interactive Media, and will graduate in December 2019. Kate is a freshman and plans to pursue a degree in nursing.