Creating a forum for expert voices in nursing
Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) student Amanda Parson was feeding preemies in a neonatal intensive care unit and tracking how their growth was affected by breast milk versus formula. When she heard an internationally renowned clinical nurse scientist who’s researched the topic would be speaking at Illinois State University, she wanted a front-row seat.
Diane Spatz, a researcher at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, was featured last spring in the Marion McDowell Stafford Lectureship Series. Each year the series presents a prominent speaker on family and women’s health issues.
“I wanted to spend hours talking to this woman, absorbing more of what she had to say,” said Parson, who hopes to work with premature infants when she graduates in May. “These lectureships get the fire in our bellies burning even hotter. They inspire us to learn more and be better nurses, to advocate for our patients and better serve our communities. I’m so thankful for every opportunity Mennonite College of Nursing has provided us. I couldn’t imagine being a nursing student anywhere else.”
The advantage created for students when donors fund such programming is what makes the Illinois State educational experience exceptional. This specific lectureship is provided by an endowment from the Marian McDowell Stafford Trust. The donor was from Central Illinois and took a special interest in programs benefitting children and families.
Lynn Kennell coordinates the lectureship series, which is also funded by the Harold K. Sage Foundation Fund and the Illinois State University Foundation.
“We would not be able to have this series without this financial support,” said Kennell, who is an MCN instructional assistant professor.
Kennell explains that the goal of the lectureship is two-fold: educating students and the community. The series always includes a workshop that provides alumni and area nurses with continuing education credits at no cost.
“It’s a wonderful way for us to give back as a college. It’s a good thing for our alums and for the nurses we work with in area hospitals,” Kennell said. “They do a lot for us in educating our students.”