Calling Dr. Kathleen Greatrex

Kathleen Greatrex, MD '80

Kathleen Greatrex, MD ’80

When Kathleen Greatrex ’80, M.D., was in third grade, her mother endured major surgery on her kidneys and bladder. Greatrex remembers referring to a book on human anatomy and asking her dad to explain where her mom’s problems were located, followed by wanting to know what would happen during surgery.

He must have done a thorough job explaining these complex issues, because Greatrex was able to convey the surgery components, in anatomical detail, to her teacher who had asked how her mother was faring.

“I loved big words,” she admits while laughing at the absurdity. Turning serious, Greatrex explains that it was the challenge and the ability to help others that attracted her to the medical field.

“To me, it was a calling, not a career,” she insists. For Greatrex, it was never about the money or the recognition, it has always been a calling that she could not say “no” to.

Greatrex emphasizes the similarities between herself and her mentor and friend of over 35 years, Sister Jane Anne Molinaro, IHM, Ph.D. “Sister Jane Anne told me that when she was called to become a religious sister, she could not say ‘no’ either.”

The bond between Greatrex and Sister Jane Anne, a former biology professor who taught Greatrex multiple science courses, was strengthened by Sister’s continual encouragement. That encouragement and support helped fuel Greatrex through medical school and into her chosen field of radiology.

“I was meant to be a breast radiologist,” she says.

Already facing the heartbreak of losing her mother to breast cancer at such a young age, within ten years, all five of Greatrex’s mother’s sisters also died from cancer.  Adding salt to the wound, Greatrex also lost her dear friend, Sister Jane Anne, from cancer in January 2015.

Recalling the outpouring of love toward Sister Jane Anne upon her passing, Greatrex decided to honor her friend with an endowed scholarship in her name to be awarded to a female student majoring in the sciences. She determined that if every alum who was taught and affected by Sister Jane Anne would give $5 to the scholarship, her legacy would endure for future generations, continuing to help students in ways they need it the most. “To me, that is what Immaculata is all about,” Greatrex states. “That is why I am where I am now.”

In life, you may not realize that the person you meet during your freshman year will end up becoming a major influence in your life – and at times – become a lifelong friend. Greatrex was fortunate to have Sister Jane Anne in her life. For students pursuing a medical career, her advice is simple but heartfelt.

“Follow your passion…follow your calling no matter what obstacles or roadblocks.”

If you would like information on applying for the Sister Jane Anne Molinaro Endowed Scholarship, please contact FinancialAidDept@immaculata.edu.

If you are interested in donating to the scholarship, please contact Martha Borraccini at mborraccini@immaculata.edu or 484-323-3681.

Author: lszyjka

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