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College of Nursing 50th Anniversary

First Class

There were just 37 students in the first graduating class of what’s now the Washington State University College of Nursing. Though students entered the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education (ICNE) from different schools, they quickly became close. Many say they felt like pioneers as students and faculty learned from each other to build the program. Most went on to fulfilling and diverse nursing careers. Here’s what some of that original class have to say about their time since graduating in 1971, and their memories of ICNE.

Dianne Huggar, Spokane Valley, Washington

“I was in the hospital world from Day 1, and ended up being Director of Nursing at Valley Hospital (in Spokane). I loved everything about it – I loved dealing with patients, doctors, the variety. What’s better than when you give your first CPR and the patient makes it? Nursing is a great opportunity, there’s so many things you can do. (At ICNE) we were feeling our way with the instructors because they were new too. Our psych teacher had to double as our med/surg teacher. It seems like a minute ago.”

Sharon Lemke, Iowa City, Iowa

“The university (where she worked) was contacted by a medical group in Moscow, Russia, which was setting up a hospital and outpatient clinics there. At that time more western businesses were setting up in Russia and they wanted to have western medicine available for them. I was part of a medical team selected to go over and work with them. Together we developed a clinic practice model. The clinics were state-of-the-art, they were beautiful. That was what the westerners would see. The experience of their general population was not the same at all. Nursing was good to me and I think I was good to nursing as well.”

Lory McLellan, Santa Rosa, California

“I’ve been in the ER for 42 years. (As a student in Spokane) I saw a woman come in as a code blue and she died. She was about 48 and had six kids. Her husband was notified first and he came and stood outside the emergency department and one by one you knew a child had come up because they were screaming. It was the most horrible thing and yet it was like, this is really nursing. This is really trying to save a life. This is really helping people with their emotions as a nurse. I thought, ‘This is just everything.’”

Mel Haberman, Spokane, Washington

“I came back to the WSU College of Nursing in 1999 as a professor and have been here ever since. I was one of the founders of the PhD program here. I think nursing is an exceptional career. The job possibilities are almost endless if you’re willing to go for advanced education or specialize in a particular area. I’ve found nursing to be one endless series of opportunities that have kept me growing and challenged throughout my entire career.”

Delphine Phillips, Cheney, Washington

“(At ICNE) somebody gave me a puppy and I brought it to school one day. The director, Betty Anderson, actually took care of it for me for the day. We were a pretty close class in that we had apartments that were near one another. It was fun – they were a good group of people.”

Donna Campbell, Kennewick, Washington

“After graduation I went right to UW and completed a master’s degree in nursing. I went to work at Columbia Basin College, teaching in the nursing program. I was there for a little over 20 years, and when I retired I was vice president of instruction. It’s always made me feel proud to be part of the first class. The entire teaching staff and administration were really committed to that program and the quality of instruction. It’s been a privilege to watch that program grow and add graduate work.”

Julie McKay, Park City, Utah

“I moved to Utah after working in nursing for seven years. There was no hospital where I lived, so I got into real estate. The rest is history and I’ve been in it for 40 years. Interestingly, and I will never forget this, I was sitting in one of my real estate classes when I was getting started and they said, ‘nurses make good Realtors.’ We’re good listeners and we care. Sales and real estate have to do with listening to people and being empathetic with them.”

Christine Peterson, Spokane, Washington

“In 1996 Bill (Peterson, her husband and fellow ICNE graduate) and I both started going to Guatemala and doing anesthesia for cleft lips and palates. I had a great career. (CRNAs) work alongside anesthesiologists, and you do your own thinking and stay up on the latest drugs and techniques. It’s a great challenge. And it’s a challenge to re-create that in a Third World country where you don’t have all the amenities of a hospital in the United States. For Bill and I, it was great to have the same career. It gave us lots to talk about; we went to meetings together through the years, and had a lot of the same friends. He died of pulmonary fibrosis in 2013.”

Sharon Quast, Moscow, Idaho

“I became a nurse and got married. After my husband’s stint in the service we returned home to Pasco, and I worked there until I retired from nursing in 1998. Then we worked for 13 years as innkeepers at a bed and breakfast in northeastern Oregon. We enjoyed that a lot, met a lot of people.”

Leslie Paddock, Yakima, Washington

“I ended up job-sharing a manager position with a friend of mine at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Yakima. We both had small children. It was wonderful, we each worked about two and a half days a week. We got the best of both worlds. We did IV therapy management, then added home care to that later. We started a home infusion program too. I just loved my job, I loved the patients, I loved the people.”

Linda Bordwell, Spokane, Washington

“When my youngest was about 2 I went to work for the school district, and was there 32 years. I was the lead nurse for the schools in northeast Spokane. I love kids of all ages, and enjoyed working with staff, but probably most of all I enjoyed teaching. I did a lot of teaching on all levels, to a preschooler on how to do infection prevention, to staff working with blood pressure and diabetes. (At ICNE) We had only one bathroom – that was always tricky. We as a class bought the first Christmas tree. It sat on the floor and the top if it was at the third level; it filled up the whole foyer and it was beautiful.”

Steven Wohrle, Elk, Washington

“Those two years I was getting a nursing degree, I was in the Army Reserves. After graduating I went active duty into the Army and was stationed in El Paso. That’s where I received my diploma for anesthesia. In ’78 I came back here and started working for Holy Family Hospital and was there for 35 or 36 years. I thought I was going to be surgeon, but I practiced anesthesia for 41 years and and I found out what a surgeon’s life is really like. It may be a glamorous title but it’s a miserable life. I feel very fortunate.”

Lynda Tucker, Canby, Oregon

“The law in Washington was different at that time; I worked at Deaconess Hospital as an aide, but they would let us work to our capacity as a student. I would take my practice checklist in and show what I had been successfully checked off in; it was like getting two extra days of clinical. You always felt like what you were learning you could put into practice right away.”

Karen Benham, Kennewick, Washington

“In the last 50 years I’ve never been out of nursing. At Deaconess I did everything from floor nursing to charge nurse to head nurse. I was director of nursing for 10 years at Newport Hospital. I had an opportunity to move back to the Tri-Cities, which is where I grew up, for a position in the quality department, which is what I’m doing now. I couldn’t think of anything else I would rather do, the opportunities are so wide and varied.”

Kay Smith, Lacey, Washington

“The intimacy of our class was an amazing thing. I think the other thing nursing did for me was, I’m still using it. I volunteer every year, I got involved with Camp Leo for children with Type 1 diabetes, I’ve gotten involved with the Medical Reserve Corps, and I was privileged to go on three medical missions to Haiti. I would never have gotten to do that without my career.”

Gail Lascik, Spokane, Washington

“I was a clinical nurse specialist at Eastern State Hospital for most of my career. I also taught at ICNE as an assistant professor. (Getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing) was the best decision I ever made. It just gave me lots of flexibility in my nursing career and what I did.”