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Woman stands with family in front of a burned house

Employee Spotlight: Ashley Sokoloski Gains Perspective From Unexpected Life Events

Life can bring unexpected twists and turns, as Ashley Sokoloski can attest. The Skiatook resident has been shaped by unpredictability before and since joining Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma.

As a utilization management coordinator, Sokoloski helps ensure our members’ needs are met. Events, including her son’s birth complications and a sudden family loss, have significantly affected her life and career path.

“I think my experiences help with perspective of what truly matters,” Sokoloski says. “Our members may be going through a really difficult time in their life. Someone they may not ever know or meet but is there and cares about them.”

Sokoloski’s first career choice out of college was with another type of blue as a Tulsa Police Department officer. TPD hired her two weeks after earning her criminal justice degree. Sokoloski worked her way up the department before her path changed in 2009.

Soon after his birth, her second son, Chase, was diagnosed with spina bifida (a portion of the spinal cord is exposed) and hydrocephalus (an unusual amount of fluid buildup in the brain). He was taken into surgery — the first of two — and stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for a few weeks.

Chase made a full recovery.

“He’s like the best-case scenario for his situation,” Sokoloski says, noting a shunt was required to aid in his recovery. “He walks around and plays sports. There was a time when we didn’t know what his life would look like. He’s our miracle baby.”

The care the NICU nursing staff provided Sokoloski and her family made an impression on her, sparking something inside. 

“Being in there, you see how much they do. They do everything. You see them all the time,” Sokoloski recalls. “They’re not just taking care of the babies, but the parents, too. They’re the ones that teach you how to take care of your baby from the surgery they’ve had. It’s a special thing for sure. There was a just a fire that was lit.”

Sokoloski had always wanted to be a nurse but was unsure whether she could handle the academic load. With a toddler and newborn at home, Sokoloski questioned the timing to make a possible career change. After discussing it with her husband Eric, she decided to take a leap of faith.

After finishing general courses, she was accepted into nursing school at the University of Oklahoma — Tulsa and earned her degree. She worked as a nurse before joining BCBSOK in September 2022.

As she settled into her job, life took another twist for Sokoloski a few months later.

On Feb. 27, 2023, the Sokoloski family was asleep when a storm produced several lightning strikes, including a loud one near their house. 

“We heard something really loud, but nothing was happening,” Sokoloski recalls. “Then, about 1:30 in the morning, my son (Chase) came down and said the smoke detector was going off.”

The family could smell smoke but did not immediately see any flames.

“There was smoke, and it wasn’t until we were walking out of the house when there was a glow coming from the yard,” she says. “Once we got out there, we looked up and turned around and the whole roof was engulfed in flames.”

In retrospect, Sokoloski says, “Things are just things. But losing the baby videos, pictures, handmade ornaments when the kids were little. All of that stuff stings. Still, we’re thankful. It could have been much worse.”

Sokoloski was overcome by the generosity of her BCBSOK colleagues during such a difficult time.

“Our Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma family was really great to us,” she says. “I had not been working in this group very long and they took up a donation. They were dropping stuff off. People I had never met, and may never meet, were sending us money. Everyone was very supportive, from managers to senior managers to coworkers, they were checking on us and helping me get set back up.”

Sokoloski says she has learned many lessons through her experiences and believes they have made a positive impact on her life, including her work at BCBSOK.

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association