Alumni Spotlights

Adrienne Kasbaum, ’12: Keeping NU Students Healthy

March 2, 2017 by Lisa McMahon, MA'12

When Adrienne Kasbaum, ’12, was a student in Niagara University’s nursing program, she loved the campus environment. Today, as director of NU’s Student Health Services, she still enjoys the beauty of Monteagle Ridge, as well as the people with whom she works and the students she serves.

Adrienne was always drawn to the medical field. Perhaps it was the influence of her mother, who tended to her father for more than a decade while he battled kidney disease. Tragically, he passed away when Adrienne was only 20, but she still draws on the lessons her mother taught her of sacrifice and independence. She worked as a secretary in a nursing home for a number of years, and then as a medical assistant in a family medicine office, where she discovered she was doing much of the same work as the nurses there. Attracted to the nursing profession because it would enable her to provide for her family and offer her the flexibility she needed as the mother of two, she enrolled in an RN program at a community college.

After graduating, she continued her employment at the nursing home as the employee health nurse, and then moved into its home care department so she could expand her nursing experience. However, when gas prices made the cost of traveling to her patients prohibitive, she applied for the position of manager of employee health at Mt. St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston, N.Y. She spent nine years in that role, earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Niagara University during that time.

“I came to NU with 15 years of working experience as a registered nurse,” she says. “The RN to BSN completion program embraced and utilized all of the experience that we, the students, brought with us. Some of the students in my classes were new nurses and some had been working for 20-plus years. This made the classroom very interesting and brought great perspective that was relatable to all the topics that we were studying.”

While in the program, Adrienne looked to Dr. Fran Crosby, ’67, director of the nursing program, and Barbara Malinowski, ’59, who was a co-worker at St. Mary’s, as role models. Both women provided her with guidance and unconditional support, and inspired her with their selfless generosity to the profession, the community, and the nursing students.

After earning her BSN, Adrienne was promoted to director of employee health at St. Mary’s. She continued her studies, this time pursuing an MBA because she “liked the business aspect of health care,” anticipating that the Affordable Care Act and healthcare reform would be changing the landscape of how healthcare was delivered and the structure of reimbursement.

Although Adrienne loved her job at St. Mary’s, when the hospital underwent a restructuring and job descriptions were redefined, her education and experience made her overqualified for the role she held. And then she saw the job opportunity at her alma mater.

She applied, never thinking she would find another job like the one she had at the hospital, but when she was hired in November 2016, she realized that NU’s sense of community made the job as appealing as the one she had to leave.

Having spent 20 years in employee health, Adrienne is now enjoying working in a slightly different area--student health.

“We are all mothers here in the student health office, with kids the same age,” she explains. “We get it. They’re ill and their mothers are three or four hours away. They need mothering, along with medical care, and we love to do it because we can get them better and we would want someone to do it for our kids.”

Adrienne enjoys being part of the community of “Niagara Nurses,” as well. “Niagara nurses can be found everywhere and are well-known for their compassion, dedication, and expertise,” she says. “I am proud to say that I am one of them.”