College of Nursing celebrates 35 years, honors 4 remarkable alumni

College of Nursing 35th Anniversary Brunch, Alumni Awards, UMSL

Pictured here (from left) are UMSL College of Nursing Alumni Award winners Sandy Summers, Susan Hoffstetter and Jeanne Zack with College of Nursing Dean Susan Dean-Baar. Alumnus Samuel Mugaya (not pictured) was also honored at the college’s 35th Anniversary Brunch on May 6. (Photo by Pete Broeder)

In 1981, when Founding Dean Shirley Martin first assumed leadership of the College of Nursing at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, she had a vast vision for the new college’s potential.

Then known as the School of Nursing at UMSL, its first focus was to provide the growing population of hospital diploma- or associate-degree-holding registered nurses with an excellent and innovative pathway to their bachelor’s degrees.

Three and a half decades later, that original mission still exists – and it has grown exponentially.

Today, the College of Nursing is home to more than 1,000 students who are pursuing a plethora of undergraduate- and graduate-level degree options in both traditional and accelerated formats. On May 13, more than 90 students from the BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, DNP and PhD programs joined the ranks of the 6,000-plus alumni who are already proud to call UMSL their alma mater.

To mark such growth and progress, the college has spent its 35th year bringing folks together for moments of both reflection and anticipation.

One of those moments occurred in March when the Daughters of Charity, who once occupied the South Campus buildings the nursing students now call home, visited with students, faculty and staff and shared their history.

Another happened during a recent round of panel presentations that had alumni and senior students discussing and sharing insights on the experience of transitioning from nursing school to professional practice.

And just before spring commencement, a 35th Anniversary Brunch on May 6th in the Millennium Student Center brought together current College of Nursing Dean Susan Dean-Baar, Martin, Chancellor Tom George, former Chancellor Blanche Touhill and several other esteemed guests, alumni and students to honor the college’s continued standards of excellence.

After crediting both Martin and Touhill with laying the foundation that started it all, Dean-Baar offered an address that highlighted multiple points of pride and committed the college to a future full of further progress and innovation.

“We are the only program in the region that offers nurse practitioner training in all of the population focus areas including adult/geriatrics, family, pediatrics primary and acute care, psychiatric/mental health and women’s health,” she said. “We prepare nurse leaders and nurse scientists, and we’ve become the go-to partner for health-care organizations across the St. Louis region who want to develop innovative and creative approaches to preparing the nursing workforce.”

In short, the entire legacy is one that will shine a light on the next 35 years to come.

“The future is very bright for the UMSL College of Nursing,” Dean-Baar added. “We will continue to develop and offer programs that address challenges and provide opportunities to improve the health of our community and advance the profession and discipline of nursing, and we will continue to explore new models of education and practice partnerships. I envision a future where interprofessional collaboration will be a part of every student’s learning in all of our programs.”

The 35th Anniversary Brunch festivities included alumni awards, which were bestowed upon four remarkable graduates who’ve achieved success and shown exemplary commitment in the areas of community service, leadership and advocacy, nursing practice and nursing quality.

The honorees were:

Samuel Mugaya, BSN 2014, Community Service

Mugaya is the director and founder of the Ugandan nonprofit Care for Orphans and Community Development (Cafocod). Through partnerships in the U.S. and Africa, Mugaya continuously works to build the strength and  scope of the organization he created in order to bring health care and education opportunities to children and other vulnerable people in his native homeland.

Though he was unable to attend the ceremony, he sent a message of thanks and asked that some of his former classmates accept his award on his behalf.

“I am so privileged to have attended the UMSL College of Nursing and attained my degree from there,” Mugaya wrote. “The requisite knowledge, skills and abilities I acquired during my undergraduate studies at UMSL combined with the unwavering guidance and support from faculty, staff and classmates have come to define who I am and what I aspire to be to the world.”

Sandy Summers, BSN 1984, MSN 1995, Leadership and Advocacy

Summers is a pediatric nurse practitioner at Washington University School of Medicine in the area of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition. She is the clinician for patient management of the Intestinal Rehabilitation Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and also represents the St. Louis Pediatric Nurse Practitioners on the Missouri Council on Advanced Practice. In 2011, Summers received the St. Louis Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners PNP of the Year Award and, in 2016, she received the State Award for Excellence in Advocacy from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Susan Hoffstetter, MSN 1997, Nursing Practice

Hoffstetter is co-director of the Vulvar and Vaginal Disorders Specialty Center in the Saint Louis University School of Medicine’s department of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health. She is nationally recognized for her work in the highly specialized field of vulvar dermatology. Hoffstetter is a fellow in the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease. She has served on numerous national advisory panels and – among many other accomplishments and memberships – is currently a member of the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative steering committee. She received her BSN and PhD in Higher Education Administration from Saint Louis University.

Jeanne Zack, PhD 2008, Nursing Quality

Zack is a quality patient care consultant for BJC HealthCare as well as a certified infection prevention and control practitioner. She has been a leader in advancing quality and safety through her work in infection control for nearly 20 years. She is a national and international speaker on hand hygiene and infection prevention, especially in the area of hospital-acquired infections. She has received numerous awards for her work including the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award for Infection Prevention and Occupational Health, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America Advanced Practice Infection Preventionist Award and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology Award for Outstanding and Dedicated Service in Preventing Disease. She holds a diploma in nursing from Barnes Hospital School of Nursing as well as a BSN from Maryville University, is a past recipient of UMSL’s Distinguished Alumni Award and currently serves as co-chair for the College of Nursing Leadership Council.

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