The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Julie Holt: A nurse determined to make a change

From a young age, Julie Holt knew she wanted to help others and nursing has been a career to do so. Megan Horn | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

From a young age, Julie Holt knew she wanted to help others and nursing has been a career to do so. Megan Horn | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

Julie Holt: A nurse determined to make a change

Annie Strella

Guest Writer


Walking into a student-filled Starbucks in November, Julie Holt has a bright smile to start her morning. She sits with ease and an “I’m ready, let’s do this” eagerness. Dressed in a light sweater, wearing simple glasses, ready to share her passion and experience as a City College nursing professor–as well as her story of being a young and curious nursing student.

It was the 1980s when she went to college and AIDS was still a new disease, Holt explained. People did not have much knowledge about how it was transmitted. Holt was a nursing student at Chico State University and knew that the knowledge and education of AIDS was minimal in the small city.

“The large cities were getting a lot more information routinely in the newspapers,” Holt says. “It wasn’t necessarily on the forefront of the news every day in Chico, California.”

People may have seen the world suffering from a new and mysterious disease at the time, but most moved on with their daily lives.

Holt was not one of those people. She wanted to make a difference. She wanted to help others. So she, with others, did something about it.

Holt, along with students in the National Student Nursing Association (NSNA), was curious how they could help spread education and awareness about how to prevent transmitting the disease. At that time, death rates from AIDS were high, especially in metropolitan areas. Misinformation about AIDS was rampant.

In 1989, Holt and her fellow students put together an event on Chico State’s campus for AIDS Awareness Week.

“We were just beginning to identify what the disease was,” says Holt, who had just been accepted into the nursing program at Chico when she joined the NSNA. “We had professionals come from San Francisco and Sacramento to do an open forum for about 200 people on the Chico State campus.”

During the event, the speakers shared their research in open forums for the students. Holt and her group also had a table where condoms were passed out for free.

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At 22 years old, Holt had found her passion in the health of her community and in helping educate others.

Through her college campus’ community, through the professional nursing association she belonged to and through the event she organized, Holt created many relationships and friendships. Some like Jones-Souza admit Holt’s influence has impacted her to this day.

“I have always seen Julie–even when we were just students–as progressive, a leader, and an extremely compassionate, understanding nurse,” says Jones-Souza.

Holt agrees that the event was transformative for her, as well.

“That really was a very amazing turning point for us in our careers,” Holt says. “It kind of set the stage: How do we make a difference for this crisis that was in health and was affecting rural communities and metropolitan communities?”

Jennifer Gustafson, another nursing friend from Holt’s activist days at Chico State, marvels at what their group did 30 years ago.

“Looking back, I can’t believe we had the time or energy to put on a week-long event, with each day having a different activity or focus,” Gustafson says. “It speaks to the love we have for nursing and helping others. Her students are benefiting from her skills, knowledge and hard work. It’s nice to see things come full circle.”

Holt, now 53, has been a pediatric nurse and nursing professor for over 25 years, 21 of those at City College. This year she began a new position as a regional health deputy sector navigator under the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

As a sector navigator, she works across the region with high schools and community colleges, making sure students are aware and educated in preparing for nursing school and the health industry.

“I love the high school connection,” Holt expresses. “It is really inspiring looking at community groups. I’ve been able to connect with some really strong advocacy groups.”

Along with her role as a professor, Holt continues to assist her students. Since being at City College, she has led helpful programs for nursing students, including stress control yoga classes, collecting brown bag lunches and opening a food locker of healthy snacks and foods.

“We wanted to make sure they understood how to really love it actually, because it’s very fun,” says Holt of a nursing career. “It’s very stressful, but it’s very fun.”


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