After working at the Wake Forest PA Studies program for the past ten years, academic curriculum manager Carol Hildebrandt retired at the end of June with mixed feelings. 

She said it’s been unlike any other job she’s had. 

“Before coming here, I’ve always worked in corporate. This has been a very different environment,” she said. “And I really enjoyed it!” 

In listing the reasons she enjoyed her time at Wake Forest, Hildebrandt first cited the opportunities for growth, learning and networking she experienced. “There were always a lot of activities going on that I enjoyed,” she continued. “There were different groups, networking opportunities. It was a mind-expanding environment.” 

Hildebrandt also mentioned the move from Victoria Hall to 525@Vine as one of the highlights of her tenure. “It’s a beautiful facility. We have a wonderful space,” she said. “Being in the Innovation Quarter, it’s geared toward discovery and learning.” 

But unsurprisingly, Hildebrandt said what she enjoyed most about working in the PA Studies program, and what she will miss the most, are the people. 

“I’ve loved all of the faculty and staff that I've worked with,” she said. “They're just passionate about medicine, they're passionate about education. They have the best interests of their patients in the heart.” 

Five older white women sit and stand together and smile at the camera

Chance Encounter 

Hildebrand said she feels very fortunate to have found a position at Wake Forest, because it was a chance encounter that led to it. 

In 2001, she had just moved to the area with her husband, and was out checking the mail at her new home, when her neighbor approached her. “It turned out to be Dr. Kirk, who worked in Family Medicine,” Hildebrandt recalled. The two had a long conversation, during which Dr. Kirk asked about her interests and what kind of work she was looking for. 

“She asked me if I would be interested in being her clinical trial coordinator. And I said ‘Sure!’” 

That meeting led to Hildebrandt taking on gradually increasing roles in Family Medicine, and ten years later moving to PA Studies. 

That meeting was nearly 20 years ago.  

Today, Hildebrandt looks back at a rewarding career at Wake Forest. At the same time, she is looking forward to retirement, as she plans to expand her already-busy volunteer schedule. Her plans include working with a food insufficiency program, a reading program, and the Red Cross. 

Woman with long white-gray hair wearing red jacket and red sunglasses takes selfie in front of a waterfall while kayaking on a riverShe also plans to continue pursuing her love of the outdoors. “I am an avid hiker, and I also love to paddleboard,” she said.  

But Hildebrandt isn’t quite done at Wake Forest. Her retirement plans also include working at Wake Forest part time while they look for her replacement. Eventually she will leave the program for the last time, and she is thankful for her time there. 

“I've learned a lot. And I've met so many awesome people. I like my job,” she said. “I'm retiring with mixed feelings. I'm going to miss this place, and I'm going to really miss these people.”