When beginning her career at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Hilary Sigmon could never have imagined she would be setting forth on a path that would lead her to work at the National Institutes of Health – work that would take her to China, Haiti, Uganda, Russia, and more.

As Hilary says – borrowing from The Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

After earning her nursing diploma and then a BA in Sociology from Penn in 1973, Hilary went on to practice nursing in the intensive care unit at George Washington University. During this time she earned her master’s degree in nursing from Catholic University, and then later became a clinical nurse specialist in the surgical intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Hilary continued to advance throughout the nursing profession, becoming the chief flight and head nurse at Washington Hospital Center, where she set up the shock trauma life flight program. When it was time to move on, she enrolled in the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and earned her PhD in physiology and biochemistry.

After receiving a post doc and taking a brief break to start a family with her husband Andy Goldstein, C’72, whom she met as a student at Penn, Hilary began work at the National Institutes of Health. There, she worked at the National Institute of Nursing Research to integrate nursing research programs with basic science. She subsequently moved to the Center of Scientific Research (CSR) as a Scientific Review Officer (SRO), where she led HIV/AIDS research training site visits to countries around the world and oversaw the AIDS Clinical Studies and Epidemiology (ACE) study section.

For the past 5 years, Hilary has also been the SRO of the ACE and International Collaborative Projects study section as the CSR/Fogarty International Center (FIC) coordinator for application reviews and conducted workshops on international and national scientific merit review throughout the U.S., Europe and China.

Recently retired after a 30-year career in government, Hilary took time to reflect on the role her nursing education and time at Penn has played and continues to play in her life and the life of her family.

 “My years at Penn shaped and prepared me for the colossal professional life I’ve led and introduced me to wonderful people – some of whom became my family members and lifelong friends. My husband, sons, sister, brother-in-law, and niece are all Penn alums!”

Ever the lifelong student and a Penn Quaker determined to make a difference, Hilary is now using her time to remain politically active, learn conversational Spanish, travel, and take classes on a variety of new subjects.