The Fall 2014 issue of Illuminations took a look at how nursing alumni from all decades decided to pursue a career in nursing.
The cover story of the College of Nursing and Public Health’s Fall 2014 Illuminations newsletter features observations from numerous alumni—from the 1940s into the 2000s—about their student experience. Here’s a look back at how many of these and other alumni decided to pursue a nursing career.
Before attending Adelphi, was nursing always your career choice? If not, what inspired you to change?
“Nursing was my goal. There were not many options for women in the 1940s. But I was most interested in a college education. My parents, who had only completed eighth grade, encouraged and supported me. I found Adelphi College and its plans for a four-year baccalaureate nursing program. My biggest concern was the cost and I was delighted when [then-director] Mildred Montag provided assistance and I was awarded a four-year tuition scholarship. I graduated in 1949 and have been involved in nursing ever since.”
“I wanted to be an engineer or an architect. However, going to high school in the ’50s, I was told girls were not engineers….One summer, I was a candy striper at Nassau Hospital and that did it….I finally enjoyed my engineering desire in 1980, when I headed a team of nurses to install a very sophisticated hospital information system. I loved it!”
—Margaret (Dempsey) McCartney ’58
“Actually, before my senior year in high school, I really had no idea what I wanted to be ‘when I grew up.’…One day, out of the blue, I just knew that I wanted to be a nurse….I’m sure it had a lot to do with the fact that my uncle, who had lived with us after my dad died, had married a nurse recently and I really liked her and wanted to be just like her.”
“Initially, I was slated to be an English major and probably would have become a high school English teacher (or, looking back, a TV journalist). I took three years of Latin in high school, which helped with vocabulary and the derivatives of words. At Queens College, which I attended for one year, I realized Queens College and English might not be what I wanted and that science might be more of a challenge. And, between my mother having been an R.N. in World War II and my father a pharmacist, becoming a nurse seemed the right choice….With nursing as my major and the way prescriptions and medical orders were written in those days, I would get to use all that Latin after all!”
“At first I wanted to be a pediatrician but then, as I became older, in my senior year in high school, I decided nursing would be a better fit and a way to get direct patient care early on in my career. I remembered watching TV shows in the late ’60s and ’70s, where nurses were highlighted as main characters, for example, Julia, starring Diahann Carroll M*A*S*H‘s Margaret Houlihan and Nurse Dixie McCall on Emergency. The nurses were depicted as smart, dedicated and caring professionals who made the difference in the lives of others and colleagues. I too wanted to be that kind of healthcare professional, so I chose nursing.”
“I think I have always been interested in healthcare. My sister is a nurse and I read her books and then decided to get a summer job as a teenager at the local hospital. I started in housekeeping and central supplies and then moved into being a nursing assistant, and here I am 40-something years later—a nurse with a Ph.D.”
—Hrafn Oli Sigurdsson, Ph.D. ’99
“Nursing was always my career choice, ever since I was a little girl. My mom bought me a nursing costume for Halloween one year, and it was over after that.”
—Mary Courtenay (Vaupel) Steimer ’98
“I did not always want to be a nurse. When I was 14, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Ironically, she [died in] the very hospital I work in now….I became a nurse for her—she was a nurse and I wanted to carry on her legacy and keep her memory alive in my life in some way….Her death taught me empathy, and I chose nursing because I felt it would allow me to put it to good use.”
—Marie Podany ’09
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but at some point I decided I wouldn’t want to work with sick animals; I thought it would make me too sad. As a teenager, I decided to be a nurse. I knew I was interested in medicine and enjoyed working with people. For some reason, I thought this wouldn’t be as sad as sick animals—I was wrong.”
—Marlee LiButti ’10
—Compilation from interviews by Ela Schwartz, Andrea Maneri and James Forkan
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