Pam Yaksich Finds Fulfillment and Faith at Pope Paul VI Institute
For longtime Pope Paul VI Institute employee Pam Yaksich, working at the Pope Paul VI Institute for the better part of the past 30 years has had a tremendous impact, both professionally and spiritually.
After having graduated from Creighton University in Omaha with a degree in Biology in 1984, Pam Yaksich was attending a banquet where she heard a young Doctor discuss his pro-life research. As a scientist and a person of faith, Pam was intrigued.
“I didn’t even know that there was such a thing,” Pam recounts. “But I knew I had to find out more.”
Shortly thereafter, she reached out to the young Doctor, Thomas Hilgers, who would eventually hire her as a research assistant first at the former St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, a role she would maintain when the Pope Paul VI Institute opened its doors in the fall of 1985.
“It was so exciting to work with Dr. Hilgers back then, and his approach was so visionary,” she says.
In 1993, Pam left the Institute to accept a job as a science teacher at a Lutheran High School where she later became its principal. Twelve years later, in 2007, she again reached out to Dr. Hilgers who was in search of an executive assistant, a role that includes a range of responsibilities from human resources, to credentialing for the Institute’s doctors, to some building administration.
Having been with the Institute in its early days, Pam has seen some dramatic changes at the Institute since it all began 30 years ago.
She shares, “In our early days, our education programs would attract about 20 students, and we were excited if even one of those attendees was a physician. Now, our education programs have up to 100 per class, and it is not unusual for half of them to be doctors.”
One of the most incredible changes Pam has witnessed while working at the Pope Paul VI Institute is her own personal conversion to Catholicism. A former Lutheran, Pam cites the Institute and its day-to-day witness as the impetus for her conversion.
“When I first started here, I had a tremendous appreciation for the fact that Pope Paul VI Institute did not run from its Christian values,” she recalls. “And I saw the way the Institute treats its patients, and the courage in practicing its faith holistically in the marketplace. I started attending mass in the chapel and eventually felt that heartfelt call to convert.”
As for the young Doctor whose research compelled her to seek employment with the Institute?
“He’s the real deal,” she says. “Over the past 30 years, he has had a lot of reasons to give up … being a pioneer is never easy, but I have seen the fruits of his faithfulness and hard work firsthand and, truly, to do what he has done here is amazing.”