Master of Science in Nursing, 2009
Diane Wilson dreamed of becoming president so she could make a difference for others. While her career hasn’t led her to the White House, she has impacted thousands of lives along the way by becoming the first female and first non-physician president of the American Association of Tissue Banks.
Diane began her nursing career 35 years ago with an associate’s degree. She worked as a labor and delivery nurse, open heart surgical nurse and at a community blood center. The blood center also had a small tissue bank that it wanted to expand and Diane was asked to become its director. She agreed temporarily until a permanent replacement was found.
What she thought was temporary soon became a lifelong passion for Diane. She realized that rather than being a dark, dreaded task, tissue donation helps save or improve the lives of tens of thousands of people who receive tissue grafts each year. Her persistence and hard work helped grow the bank from a single facility to the fifth-largest in the United States with more than 300 employees working in nine locations.
She worked her way up the ranks to chief operating officer — all with just her associate’s degree in nursing. She preferred to hire employees with bachelor’s degrees, but felt like a hypocrite for doing so. She decided to earn her bachelor’s degree with University of Phoenix because of the flexibility of online classes to meet her hectic travel and work schedule. She even went on to pursue a dual master’s degree in Nursing and Health Administration with University of Phoenix.
Diane’s education gave her the confidence to run for president of the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB), a post previously held only by male doctors. The AATB is a volunteer organization that sets quality standards for and accredits tissue banks in the United States and Canada. She was elected president of AATB and began her term in September 2009.
“I realized I didn’t have to be a doctor or a man to become president,” shares Diane. “Obtaining my degrees opened doorways for me and made them wider.”