Sister Katarina has played a pivotal role in building Kraljevica Specialist Hospital's reputation as a Centre of Excellence for Learning Disability Care education within Croatia. She has also played a key role in the success of Anglia Ruskin's "Mission Croatia", in helping to build links between the hospital and our University, and in providing the opportunity for a number of Anglia Ruskin students to gain valuable experience under her guidance.
In 2004 Sister Katarina Gudac was awarded an Honorary Master of Arts.
"Katarina was born in the Slovenian town of Maribor near the Austrian border, attended elementary and high-school there and continued her education at a school for Nursery Nursing in Ljubljana. As a student she had been involved with humanitarian work among children suffering with asthma and allergies, which was recognized by the, then, Chief of the Hospital for Allergies and Rehabilitation in Kraljevica, where she was invited to commence her professional career. Katarina has participated in the development of the hospital over some years and is now pleased to have witnessed its positive transformation into the Centre for Rehabilitation Fortica-Kraljevica. She has a particular love for animals and for foreign travel and believes this has its roots in her travelling to exotic countries with her veterinarian father who practised his profession, mainly, abroad. Katarina also has a passion for art in the form of ceramic decoration, sculpture and the theatre.
Sister Katarina's early positive experience as a student, with children having severe respiratory and allergy problems, led to her being selected for the Kraljevica specialist hospital when she qualified. However in 1991 she responded with characteristic caring concern to members of the new client group. Since then, she has played a pivotal role in growing the hospital's reputation as a leading centre for Learning Disability Care education and contributed significantly to enabling and encouraging close liaison of hospital staff with students and nurse teachers of the APU Mission Croatia team.
Allergy specialists Ana and Katarina received into their care an influx of learning-disabled clients sent to them during the 1991 Balkans Conflict. Yet, they responded in characteristic fashion, by the care and concern they showed to this new client group. Over the past thirteen years they have created a centre of excellence at Fortica-Kraljevica, transforming their sea-bathing hospital for children with allergic conditions into a leading centre for Learning Disability Care Rehabilitation and growing the hospital's reputation across their nation. During the past nine years they have been supported by International Rotary's Convoy of Hope and by groups from various foreign countries, including what has become the annual working visit of the Mission Croatia team of APU students led by our University Chaplain Ivor Moody and Principal Lecturer in Health Care Practice Jan Hancock.
Indeed, the Mission Croatia team has helped to improve the environment by assisting in the renovation of the hospital site. This restoration includes painting, cleaning and general maintenance. Also, six years ago the first nurse-teachers joined the team and a new era was born! Ana and Katarina paid a brief visit to the UK, which provided the insight they needed in the face of a difficult and unsteady post-war and post-communist economic and political system. Through the honing of their gifts of persistence and determination they have transformed the institution into a home for their clients. The love they have for their clients is almost palpable and their selfless commitment is well demonstrated by their contribution of a third of their personal salaries to the costs of patient care. Also, they are most firm friends of APU and offer staff and students the unique opportunity of involvement in a project that would daunt many Western 'leaders of industry.' In return, APU has offered hard work and professional support, although the Mission team say they receive much, much more than they give. Indeed, each APU volunteer benefits the richer for the experience, to the extent that a number of APU alumni have kept up close links with the hospital and continue to make independent return visits.
It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Mr Chairman, to confer on Dr Ana Sajbic-Sukunda and Sr Katarina Gudac, Honorary Masters of Arts degrees of this University."