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Denise Wilson and Lynn Kennell, Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University

Celebrating the legacy of two nursing icons

An organization is only as good as the people who make it, and the Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) shines brighter because of two stars who have helped make us who we are. On May 7, MCN celebrated the careers of two faculty heading off for retirement: Lynn Kennell and Denise Wilson. The legacy they leave behind is long and large—one of caring, compassion, and excellence. No one person can capture in words the full impact Kennell and Wilson have had on our college and on the field of nursing, but together our voices can offer a glimpse.

Lynn Kennell

Lynn Kennell sings at 2019 candlelighting.

Lynn Kennell sings at 2019 candlelighting. David Jensen accompanies.

Lynn Kennell served MCN for forty years, teaching classes that have included Maternal Infant Nursing, Nursing Care of Children, and Cultural and Spiritual Dimensions of Health Care. She has worked within the transcultural program to provide students with practical experience practicing health care in places such as Chicago, Texas, and Brazil. Each year at Candlelighting, she helped us light our candle with her voice and her guitar. She held our hand when things got hard, and her smile was a pillar of strength across a crowded room.

  • “I have always loved attending Professor Lynn Kennell’s classes. She teaches in such a passionate way through the many stories she tells. The experiences she shares with her classes inspire all of us to be compassionate and knowledgeable nurses one day. She truly cares about each and every one of us, and I cannot thank her enough for the knowledge and lessons she has taught me.” – Kaylin Doran
  • “Throughout the Nursing Care of Children course, Professor Kennell taught with an indescribable kindness, love, and passion for the pediatric field of nursing. After completing this course, I knew without a doubt I wanted to pursue the possibility of working on a pediatric oncology unit. I would like to thank Professor Kennell for inspiring me to find that same passion for nursing that she has!” – Taylor Pohlman
  • “When my America’s Promise clinical ended and I no longer had any classes with Lynn, she reached out via email to catch up and see how I was managing my classes along with applications to jobs. She has offered me multiple connections in pediatric hospitals and has been a vital asset in my pursuit of my dreams. Once you stop being Lynn’s student, she still cares about you, and that is one of her greatest attributes. Mennonite College of Nursing will truly miss her when she retires, and I will never forget how amazing she is as a teacher and as a person.” – Rachel Augius

Denise Wilson

Denise Wilson hoods FNP graduate student.

Denise Wilson hoods FNP graduate student.

During her 39 years with MCN, Denise Wilson has worn many hats. Most recently, she was associate dean for academics, and she has previously served as graduate faculty, graduate program director, and leader of the Family Nurse Practitioner sequence and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. She is an advanced practice nurse, a certified family and gerontological nurse practitioner, a certified diabetes educator, a pilot, an inspirational leader, and so much more.

  • “Oh my goodness–the program that Denise built! The FNP program here is second to none. And it’s because of her.” – Cody Yochum
  • “What can I say about Denise Wilson Ph.D., APN, FNP, GNP, CDE? She is a friend, colleague, and superstar professor and Nurse Practitioner. I have always looked up to her and aspired to be as great of a NP as her! I have known her since 2007 when I first entered the master’s degree program at Mennonite College of Nursing. She knew how hard having a family and going to school could be so she made it as easy as possible for her students to have the material to study and know for our upcoming tests and the ultimate test—the Family Nurse Practitioner Board Exam. And after 12 years of knowing her, I recently found out she is a pilot and wants to take up flying again! How cool is that? You’ve served MCN well, Denise! Thank you for everything you have done for the college and your students over the last 39 years.” – Megan Shelton
  • “For anyone who has ever had Denise as an instructor, they know she truly has a gift of teaching. She has an ability to relate the content to clinical practice all while making lectures and learning both engaging and enjoyable. The heart, hard work, and dedication that Denise put into every effort to help her students learn, grow, and develop into caring, competent nurse practitioners was evident in everything she did as an instructor. Her dedication to the profession and love of her work and students shined through with each lecture and encounter you had with her. I feel very grateful for my education, the solid foundation Denise gave me to become a nurse practitioner, and for her encouragement along the way.” – Amy O’Brien

This article is a digital exclusive for the Mennonite College of Nursing’s alumni magazine, The Flame, coming November 1, 2019. For more information, visit https://nursing.illinoisstate.edu/100-years/.

 


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