An A in summer school organic and inorganic chemistry separated Deb Bailey from joining the nursing program on a probationary status.
The one who imposed the hurdle was Evelyn Waugh, who served as the director of the Brenau University School of Nursing.
“I walked out of the room and I thought, ‘I’ll show that lady,’” said Bailey, now serving as the executive director of governmental affairs at Northeast Georgia Health System.
Bailey said Waugh became her lifelong mentor, a lesson she implored others Thursday morning at the Featherbone Communiversity at the Brenau University East Campus to follow during the Masters in the Art of Nursing program.
“I didn’t consciously find one. I just emulated a person that I had deep anger for and then much respect. But that anger turned into love, as it often does for our parents and for all of our mentors,” Bailey said.
The honorees were Waugh, Eva Johnson and Dina Hewett. Waugh did not attend due to health concerns.
Johnson is the heart failure disease manager for Northeast Georgia Health System and volunteer at Good News Clinics. Hewett is the director of Brenau’s Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing.
Bailey was the keynote speaker who also asked questions to the honorees about their lives and experiences in the nursing world.
“Healers care deeply about the inner life of people, and their great passion is to heal the suffering and conflicts that trouble individuals, divide groups and thus to bring wholeness (and) health to themselves, their loved ones, their clients or patients and to their community,” Bailey said.
Johnson and Hewett praised their family support systems, people that kept them grounded and at times gave respite from a stressful profession.
After graduating from nursing school, Johnson went to work for a critical care facility.
Nursing has progressed a long way since she started work, where she said her orientation involved learning how to make coffee for the physicians.
“It was the determination to change that culture, because I worked hard to become a nurse. I believe it was God’s ordination for me to become a nurse. I knew that nurses could carry it and go further than how to make coffee for physicians,” Johnson said.
The advice from the honorees included stepping out of one’s comfort zone and taking opportunities when they appear.