8 Trailblazing Nurses from MSIs

by guest authors Margo Brooks Carthon and Hafeeza Anchrum

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week! MSIs have played an invaluable role in the education of a number of nursing trailblazers. Today’s Monday Morning MSI Line Up recognizes 8 influential nursing leaders that attended MSIs at some point in their careers. A few have even become Deans at these important institutions!

1) Ora Strickland, PhD, RN, FAAN – North Carolina A&T State University (HCBU)

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Dr. Ora Strickland is a scientist, educator, author, and trailblazer who is responsible for the creation of institutes, academic programs, books, medical journals, and more. She earned a BSN from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC and is the Dean at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Florida International University. She is the Founding and Senior Editor of the Journal of Nursing Measurement. 

2) Elias Provencio-Vasquez, PhD – Gateway Community College (HSI)

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Dr. Provencio-Vasquez is the first Hispanic male to earn a PhD in Nursing and the first Hispanic male to assume position of Dean of a School of Nursing in the nation’s history, which he achieved at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Two years after his appointment, UTEP’s School of Nursing was recognized as the number one school in the country in awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanics. Prior to his current position, Provencio-Vasquez served as associate dean at the University of Miami and as director for the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Texas at Houston and the University of Maryland. He is currently the principal investigator at UTEP on a $6 million NIH-funded Center of Excellence that is investigating Hispanic health disparities and educating up-and-coming researchers.

3) Loretta Jemmott, PhD, RN, FAAN – Hampton University (HBCU)

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After receiving her BS from Hampton University, Dr. Jemmott has gone on to earn an MSN and PhD from University of Pennsylvania. She has earned a place as one of the nation’s foremost researchers in HIV/AIDS prevention, garnering over $100 million in federal funding. She has been honored with the U.S. Congressional Merit Award and is one of the few nurses to be elected to the National Institute of Medicine in 1999.

4) Betty Smith Williams, DrPH, RN, FAAN – Howard University (HBCU)

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“What satisfies me most is that through my work, and the work of my peers, we have stimulated others to find avenues in nursing.”

Dr. Betty Smith Williams was a graduate of Howard University and is the first African American nurse hired as faculty in higher education in the state of California in 1956. Since then, her career in research, education, service, and administration has spanned over 50 years. She has served as professor and dean at multiple nursing schools, including Mount Saint Mary’s College, UCLA, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and American University of Health Sciences.

As a leader, she cofounded and later became president of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA), which is dedicated to providing black nurses with the impetus to act collectively and to improve general healthcare for African Americans. She also cofounded the Council of Black Nurses Los Angeles as well as the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations (NCEMNA), through which she created the NCEMNA: Nurse Scientist Stimulation Program, securing a $2.4m NIH/NIGMS/DHHS grant as principal investigator and NCEMNA president.

5) Mary Elizabeth Carnegie, DPA, RN, FAAN – West Virginia State University (HBCU)

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Dr. Carnegie’s professional accomplishments include initiating the baccalaureate program in nursing at Hampton University in Virginia; serving as dean of Florida A&M University School of Nursing in Tallahassee, Florida; and working 35 years on the editorial staff of the American Journal of Nursing and five years as editor of Nursing Research. She is the author of three books: Disadvantaged Students in RN Programs, Historical Perspectives of Nursing Research, and The Path We Tread: Blacks in Nursing, 1854-1994.

6) Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, PhD, RN, FAAN – Mount St. Mary’s College (AANAPISI / HSI)

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In addition to holding a professorship at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, Mary Lou de Leon Siantz heads the Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science (CAMPOS) at the University of California, Davis. This initiative aims to increase the participation of women, and Latinas in particular, in the male-dominated STEM disciplines. Dr. De Leon Siantz recently led the efforts for the school to gain membership to the Hispanic Serving Health Professional Schools (HSHPS) as the first Hispanic Serving Professional School of Nursing in the United States.

7) Hector Hugo Gonzalez, PhD, VR-RN – University of the Incarnate Word (HSI)

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As the chairman of the Department of Nursing Education at San Antonio College, Dr. Gonzalez led their two-year nursing program to be recognized as having one of the highest minority and male student enrollments as well as the largest number of qualified minority faculty in the country. He has served as the President of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Advisory Council on Nursing Education and Service, and was the first Hispanic to serve on the Board of Directors of the National League for Nursing.

8) Dr. Bette Keltner Jacobs, Cherokee, PhD, RN – California State University at Fresno (AANAPISI / HSI)

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Dr. Bette Jacobs is Professor, Health Systems Administration; Distinguished Scholar and co-founder at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law; and a Fellow and Visiting Professor at Campion Hall University of Oxford. A Native American whose body of work spans community, academic, service, and corporate leadership, she is recognized for contributions in successful start-ups, financial integrity, and interdisciplinary innovations. Serving as Dean of Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies for 11 years, Dr. Jacobs became one of the first American Indians to be appointed dean of a school of nursing. Dr. Jacobs received her Bachelors of Science degree in nursing and Masters of Science in Public Health from California State University at Fresno. In 1985, she was award her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin.

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