Katharine Ida Thiemer ’09 found herself at a turning point when she was a sophomore at Georgetown University with aspirations of becoming a nurse.
“I was disinterested and unhappy with my clinical rotations and I will never forget when my nursing professor so lovingly told me, ‘I’m not sure you should be a nurse,’” Thiemer said.
“That was really tough. I was devastated, I was confused and those words made me question who I was and what I truly wanted,” she said. “How could I show her the potential I knew I had? I wondered what type of nurse, if any, I was meant to be.”
Fortunately, Thiemer had a foundation of perseverance and work ethic from her time at Oak Knoll.
“My years at Oak Knoll gave me the courage to pursue my path instead of what others thought I should do,” she said.
In addition, Thiemer was able to look within herself and analyze what drove her to be a nurse in the first place. There, she realized she wanted to also address the spiritual and mental aspects of suffering so she could “do so much more than heal physical pain alone.”
Thiemer earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Georgetown in 2013, and for the past five years, has worked as a registered nurse at the emergency department at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia.
“I wanted to be impactful. I wanted to make a difference in patients’ lives and to be the ultimate caregiver,” she said. “I entered professional nursing because it was my calling to serve others in need.”
This latter desire is reflective of what she was instilled with at Oak Knoll.
“I have integrated the ideals of Oak Knoll into my career and I use those ideals daily: the motivation to serve others, the advancement of service, knowledge and professionalism,” she said, noting she also felt empowered by the all-girls’ Upper School.
“Being surrounded by an all-girls’ environment taught me that a single woman can be powerful, but a group of women even more so,” she said. “Oak Knoll School laid the ground work for independent thinking.”
Thiemer is currently in the last semester of her master’s degree pursuits at Georgetown and she hopes to be a nurse practitioner, which entails a greater level of autonomy in caring for patients. Nurse practitioners can also diagnose and treat illnesses as well as prescribe medication. During her time at Oak Knoll, Thiemer played for the school’s varsity basketball team and was an inductee of the school’s chapter of the Cum Laude Society. During the spring of 2018, this honor brought her back to campus as she was chosen to address the school’s latest inductees.