Ruth Baughman Oesch ’61 has been continuously involved in the preservation of healthy communities through her contributions to the advancement of healthcare, whether it be in the hospital, the classroom, or other community settings.

As a nurse, Oesch established the first post-operative recovery room in the Bloomington-Normal area, which was fashioned from what was a doctor’s lounge near the Surgery Dept. She also helped to develop the community’s first Intensive Care Unit.

When not working directly with patients, Oesch has worked as an instructor and as a liaison to higher education institutions to aid those entering the healthcare profession. Oesch served as president of the Mennonite Nurses Alumni Association, which would transition into the Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) Alumni Association, and served as a member of the Mennonite Hospital School of Nursing Board of Trustees.

It is this drive to enable future healthcare professionals that lead Oesch to commit $50,000 through Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State to create the Ruth A. Oesch Endowed Scholarship. Scholarship is one of Redbirds Rising’s three campaign objectives along with leadership and innovation. The Ruth A. Oesch Endowed Scholarship is for students who have obtained their R.N. and are pursuing a B.S.N. or for students with a B.S.N. pursuing a M.S.N.

Oesch knows all too well the impact that financial aid can have in propelling students towards their goals while enabling them to make long-lasting impacts on their community. Oesch received a scholarship herself before she began her first semester of nursing school, which in tandem with later scholarships played a large part in her pursuit of a degree.

“I was the oldest of four children,” Oesch said. “It helped my parents and I a great deal. Without my scholarship, I don’t know whether I would have been able to complete my degree work.”

Just as Oesch may not have gone on to make such important healthcare advancements in the Bloomington-Normal community without financial aid, so too might future nursing students not have the opportunity to contribute to the evolution of community health without support. Investments in Redbirds Rising provide this support for students to educate the future leaders in healthcare, just as Oesch’s gift will empower nursing students to obtain their degrees and make an impact on the field for years to come.

“Nursing will continue to play a prominent role in healthcare throughout the world,” Oesch said. “We need to make sure that role continues. I want to do something to ensure that as I get older and my family gets older, there are well-educated nurses to help us with everything we encounter as we become consumers of healthcare.”

Oesch is confident that MCN will continue to be a major provider of nurses to the surrounding area. She cites the supportive nature of MCN graduates in tandem with the forward thinking of leadership at the college as support for her belief.

With MCN’s 100th anniversary in 2019, there seemed to Oesch no better time to endow her scholarship. Oesch hopes she too can be a pillar of support for the college’s future and the future of nursing overall. She is looking forward to the next 100 years of the college, and to the innovative advancements in healthcare newly educated professionals will bring.

“I think nursing has a very bright future,” Oesch said.