The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in any hospital is a very special place that runs on the passion and dedication of exceptional people. NICU nurses care for the tiniest, most vulnerable patients and their families at what, for many, is the most trying time of their life.

The nurses in the Marialice Shivers Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin represent the epitome of “servant leaders.” These dedicated caregivers open their hearts day-in and day-out to care for NICU babies and comfort NICU parents. They are truly exceptional people, many of whom are fulfilling their life’s calling.

Kathryn Walker was one of these exceptional, caring people. An adventurous traveler, devoted Longhorn and gifted athlete, her love and passion for life was contagious. She lived and appreciated every day to the fullest bringing joy, love and friendship to so many people. Kathryn had a natural curiosity for the world and genuine interest in its people. She found happiness and appreciation in every moment of her life.

Kathryn graduated from The University of Texas at Austin. She dreamt of becoming a NICU nurse so she returned to school and was a beloved volunteer at the Marialice Shivers NICU while she earned her Bachelor of Sciences Degree in Nursing (BSN) at Texas A&M. She graduated from nursing school in 2014, accepted a nursing position at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin, and was eagerly awaiting a transfer within the hospital to fulfill her greatest love – to help babies and their families during challenging times in the NICU.

We tragically lost Kathryn shortly after she fulfilled her dream of becoming a NICU nurse, but her family has kept her memory and legacy alive through a gift to name the NICU and family support floor after Kathryn. The Kathryn Frances Walker Center for Neonatal Intensive Care and Family Support, home of the Marialice Shivers NICU, will care for more than 800 babies each year.

Kathryn personified “healthcare with a heart” and while her 26 years of life were far too short, The Kathryn Frances Walker Center for Neonatal Intensive Care and Family Support will forever be a symbol of hope and life for the parents and infants served at the Ascension Seton Medical Center NICU.