Spalding University held its annual Commencement ceremony on Saturday at Canaan Christian Church, conferring bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees to 614 students. Spalding also extended its tradition of conferring honorary degrees to members of the public who have made contributions to the greater good as well as awards to outstanding alumni, faculty and undergraduate students.

This year, the Spalding Board of Trustees presented three honorary doctorates – to business and community leader Ulysses Lee “Junior” Bridgeman (Honorary Doctor of Laws), to Humana co-founder David Jones Sr. (Honorary Doctor of Public Service) and to Sister of Charity Federation NGO representative to the United Nations Sister Teresa Kotturan, SCN (Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters).

Spalding presented the Caritas Medal – its highest honor for alumna of the year – to nursing leader Shirley Powers, who earned her bachelor of science in nursing from Spalding in 1972.

Dr. Pattie Dillon, Associate Professor of history and the Chair of the School of Liberal Studies, was named the Outstanding Faculty Award winner for 2019.

Spalding bestowed the honor of Faculty Emeritus/Emerita on three long-serving faculty members who are retiring with at least 25 years of service each at the university – School of Business Assistant Professor of Management David Hudson, School of Nursing Professor and Graduate Program Director Dr. Pamela King and School of Natural Science Associate Professor of Mathematics Dr. Marlene Will.

The two undergraduate student award winners were Teresa San Ngyuen, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, who received the Mother Catherine Spalding Service Learning Award; and Kelsey Hamilton, Bachelor of Science in Education (Secondary and Middle Grades), who received the Meagher Senior Award.

Here’s a closer look at the honorary degree recipients and award winners from 2019, and congratulations to them all:

Honorary Doctor of Laws – Junior Bridgeman
He’s the owner and chief executive officer of Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Co., LLC, which owns and operates a Coca-Cola production and manufacturing facility in Lenexa, Kansas, and 17 Coca-Cola distribution facilities sprinkled across the American heartland.

Prior to the 2017 acquisition of the Heartland bottling operations, Bridgeman was the owner and chief executive officer of various companies operating over 450 restaurants in 20 states, including 263 Wendy’s restaurants and 123 Chili’s restaurants, and his companies received several prestigious awards within the industry.

Bridgeman attended the University of Louisville, where he graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. He was a three-year letter-winner and starter on the U of L basketball team, receiving All-American honors as a senior. He played professionally from 1975 to ’86 as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

Bridgeman serves or has served on multiple governing boards, including for Meijer Inc., Churchill Downs, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the James Graham Brown Foundation, Simmons College, the West End School and U of L, where he was board chair.

Bridgeman’s personal honors include membership in the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame and the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and being named a recipient of the Volunteers of America Tribute Award for Outstanding Service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky; the John Thompson Foundation Outstanding Achievement Award; and the Coach John Wooden Key to Life Award.

Honorary Doctorate of Public Service – David A. Jones Sr.
He co-founded Humana Inc. in 1961 and served as chief executive officer for 37 years and board chair for 44 years prior to retiring in 2005. He served as founding board chairman of Hospira until his retirement in 2007. He is a retired director of Abbott Laboratories and several other companies.

Jones was a member of The Business Roundtable and co-founder and past chair of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a group of about 50 CEOs of the nation’s largest health care organizations.

Jones, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, and his wife, Betty, have five children and 11 grandchildren.  He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisville in 1954, where he won the outstanding senior award.  He also became a Certified Public Accountant that year. After three years of Navy service he entered Yale University, earning a law degree in 1960, while also serving on the economics faculty from 1958 to 1960. He received the Yale Law School Medal in 1990 and the Yale Medal in 1992.

In 2003, he received Romania’s highest civilian award, the Order of Merit, for his role from 1990-2006 in rebuilding that nation’s devastated health care system.

He also holds honorary doctorates from the Chicago Medical School, the Claremont Graduate School, the University of Louisville, Middlebury College, Transylvania University and Ovidius University, Constanta, Romania.

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters – Teresa Kotturan, SCN
In her role as the NGO representative at the UN for the Sisters of Charity Federation, Kotturan’s primary objective is to bring the concerns of the 2,700 members of the federation and all those with whom and to whom they minister in 26 countries to the global stage of the UN. She is committed to raising awareness through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people live in peace and prosperity.

Kotturan has been a Sister of Charity of Nazareth for 49 years and previously served as Vice President of the SCN. She has also served as the Provincial Superior of the India Province for eight years.

Kotturan works to ensure that the voices of women religious and those they serve are heard. She strives to raise awareness for pressing global concerns such as poverty eradication, lack of access to education, human trafficking, human rights, global citizenship, migration and inter-religious dialogue, social development, financing for development, climate change and environmental sustainability.

Caritas Medalist (Alumna of the Year) – Shirley Burns Powers
The 1972 graduate of Spalding with a bachelor of science degree in nursing contributed to the advancement of health care and the profession of nursing in Louisville. She served  as the Chief Information Officer for Norton Hospital and implemented the first clinical information system in the state. She advanced to become Administrator for Norton Hospital and Senior Executive Officer for Norton Healthcare.

Upon retirement, Shirley started Powers Consulting Inc. and worked as Coordinator of the Greater Louisville Workforce Consortium for the Kentucky Hospital Association and Jefferson County Public Schools to implement the health care magnets in three high schools. She has served as a consultant to the Humana Foundation on a tour to Romania to assist in the writing of a health care plan for that country and to Spalding University on matters of nursing and finance. Burns has served on the boards of many organizations, including ones focused on health care, nursing and helping children. Among the myriad awards and honors she’s received, Burns was a recipient in 1996 of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Spalding for Leadership in Nursing. Now she is receiving the university’s highest honor for any alum.

Outstanding Faculty Award – Pattie Dillon
With courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, Jim Crow, gender history, and U.S. history since 1945, she has been praised for creating curriculum that is both rigorous and relevant to current events, and she is well-known around campus as being a very engaging teacher.

Dillon has undertaken scholarship work with the National Council for History Education, the Lilly Conference on College Teaching, and the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies.

Dillon serves as Faculty Senate President and the Board of Trustees’ Faculty Representative. She is also the faculty mentor for the mission societies and has served on several search committees. Off campus, she serves as President of the Kentucky Association of Teachers of History; as school board member for St. James Catholic School; as a member of the Dialogue on Diversity Conference Committee; and as Lead History Scholar for the Rivers Institute at Hanover College and the NEH Picturing America Grant’s Picturing America’s Changing Landscapes Workshop.

Designation as Professor Emeritus – David Hudson
He has taught of range of management courses in the School of Business while also possessing knowledge and experience in human resources, sales, marketing and public relations. He has been a faculty athletic representative for the Golden Eagles’ athletic program, and he is a 20-year U.S. Army veteran

Designation as Professor Emerita – Pam King
She has trained scores of nurses, nurse practitioners and other health care leaders as the director of the graduate nursing program. Outside of Spading, she has volunteered at the Family Community Clinic, which provides medical care to individuals and families who lack health insurance, and she’s used her position there as a platform to provide service learning opportunities for Spalding students.

Designation as Professor Emerita – Marlene Will
Dr. Will has spent most of her adult life associated with Spalding. She earned a bachelor’s degree in math and a master of arts in teaching at Spalding, then spent more than four decades as a professor at the university, where she also earned her doctorate in education. In teaching a variety of math courses – from college alegbra to statistics, as well as mathematics for teachers – Dr. Will played a part in the college journey of countless students from all manner of majors and degree programs.

Mother Catherine Spalding Service Learning Award – Teresa San Nguyen
Annually, this award recipient embodies the spiritual values of faith, hope and charity, which emulate Spalding’s founder, Mother Catherine Spalding. On campus, Nguyen has been a work-study in the library and a psychology tutor. Off campus, she has been heavily involved with the Vietnamese Eucharist Movement, leading youth groups there, and she volunteers at Centerstone in the crisis management center.

Mother Rose Meagher Senior Award – Kelsey Hamilton
This award goes annually to a person who has performed well academically and has a proven record as a mature leader and member of the campus community. Hamilton has been praised by faculty for her academic excellence, work ethic, maturity, judgment, helpfulness and creativity. As a work-study in the College of Education and as a student teacher at the Brown School, she has been praised for her initiative to complete tasks, her professionalism and her knowledge of mathematics content. She has also been a successful member of the Spalding track and field team and active member of the Kentucky Education Association Student Program. Hamilton collected more than 500 children’s books for the Rutherford Elementary Reads program.

It’s Commencement weekend at Spalding University! Festivities kicked off Friday with the Baccalaureate service and individual college, school and program award ceremonies. There are tons of pictures from the day on Spalding’s Facebook page within the “Commencement Activities 2019” album. Please like, share and tag yourself or others in the pictures, and do the same after the university Commencement service (10 a.m. Saturday at Canaan Christian Church). Here’s a look at some of Spalding’s new grads who participated in Friday’s events.

Haitian earthquake victim now a Spalding nursing grad
Nine years ago, Witchina Liberal’s home in Haiti was destroyed by the earthquake that devastated that country.

This weekend, she is graduating with the degree of bachelor of science in nursing from Spalding and set to add a member to her young family.

Liberal attended Friday’s Baccalaureate service on Friday nearly nine months pregnant with her son, who is due on June 23 and will be named Jeremiah. She said she expects to look back on pictures from this weekend years from now with him.

“I can say I have a career now, and I will be able to provide for him, give him everything I didn’t have growing up. I’m happy,” said Liberal, who was accompanied Friday by her husband and friends from their church.

She added with a laugh: “He’s been a good boy. I didn’t have too much trouble with him while I did the nursing program.”

At the time of the earthquake, 15-year-old Liberal was at home, but she was cooking in a kitchen that was in a different part of the building.

“Fortunately, none of my family members died, but we lost everything,” she said. “None of us were in the house at the time. But it was horrifying. A lot of people died.”

Liberal moved from Haiti to Florida in 2010 to finish high school. She also attended a community college in that state before moving in 2016 to Louisville, where she had family. She picked Spalding to finish out her BSN the next year because she “liked how they were so welcoming,” Liberal said.

“It’s hard, but it’s doable,” she said of the nursing degree. “It can be done, but it’s challenging. I enjoyed it. The professors were really helpful, really helpful.”

Commencement weekend felt bittersweet for Liberal. In November, a few weeks after she learned she was pregnant, Liberal lost her mother, who was still living in Haiti. She has had her mom on her mind as she approaches graduation. Liberal said she barely slept Thursday night as she stayed up thinking about her.

“I’m proud of what I have done, but it has been rough,” she said.

Liberal plans to be a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. At some point, she’d like to provide nursing and medical care in her home country, which she has visited every year since moving to the United States.

“That’s part of my plan,” she said. “I’d like to go back and help.”

Former Spalding golfer now a mom and grad
Bachelor of science in natural science graduate and former Spalding golfer Megan Shirley Faust had a special young guest at Friday’s Baccalaureate Service – her 2-month-old daughter, Madalyn.

Spalding student Megan Faust, in blue cap and gown, holding baby, Madalyn, in a car seat
Spalding student Megan Faust and 2-month-old daughter Madalyn after Baccalaureate service on May 31, 2019.

“It’s pretty awesome being able to experience it with her and her be in the moment with me,” Megan Faust said. Years from now, “I can show her what I did, and she’ll want to do the same.”

She said attending Spalding has been “a really great experience,” citing the experience of being an athlete and a student, as well as the bond she had with the golf team.

Faust was a senior on the 2017-18 Spalding team that won the first-ever St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship for women’s golf.

“That history is pretty awesome, being one of the first people to set those standards,” Faust said.

During her final academic year, Faust has had a new experience.

“Instead of going to practices and workouts and tournaments, I’m a mom and a student,” she said.

Faust currently works as a Certified Nursing Assistant in a nursing home. She said she may at some point pursue a job in human resources.

College of Ed master’s grad: ‘I feel like I’ve gained a family here’
Destiny Nichole Livers, a teacher a Foster Elementary School who is earning the degree of master of education in teacher leadership, said she would recommend Spalding to other aspiring or current teachers.

“I loved Spalding. The staff is very supportive,” she said.

Livers, who taught fifth grade the last three years and who will move to third grade as a team leader next year, said she’s learned about methods and best practices at Spalding that she is eager to take back to her school and share with her colleagues.

“If someone is looking for a supportive family, not just professors – I feel like I’ve gained a family here at Spalding – then you would like Spalding,” Livers said. “If you want the college where you really don’t know your professors, then go somewhere else. But here, like I told Dr. (Kristen) Harris, (the Spalding program director), ‘You’re stuck with me for life.'”

Livers was the winner of the Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for her program.


With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Amanda Jewell, who is earning the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She also holds offices in the Student Government Association and the Kentucky Association of Nursing Students.

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
My favorite Spalding memory was when the School of Nursing won the 2019 Rat Race. I had never heard of this tradition prior to transferring to Spalding University, but it was definitely a fun and interesting experience being a “rat trainer.” We almost won the year before, so I was determined to pull through for first place this year!

Which accomplishments are you most proud of during your time at Spalding?
Over the past two years at Spalding, I have served on the Student Government Association Senate for the School of Nursing and Executive Board as the Vice President of Non-traditional Students, the Second Vice President of the School of Nursing, and the Kentucky Association of Nursing Students’ Executive Board as Secretary. Prior to attending Spalding, I hadn’t really been involved throughout my collegiate career, so it was a great experience!

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spots on campus are the School of Nursing Laboratories. We have simulation mannequins to practice procedures on, so it has helped me improve my nursing skills.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
My close friends and family have inspired me to be a #spaldingworldchanger! I decided to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a pediatric nurse. Upon graduation, I am relocating to Cincinnati to work in the Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit as a Registered Nurse. I could not be more excited for my next adventure to begin!

For those with cancer or other acute medical concerns, a diagnosis comes with a whole new vocabulary. Medical jargon can feel like a different language even for native English speakers, and for those who immigrated from elsewhere, understanding treatment options can be downright overwhelming.

Spalding University senior nursing student Valentina Nikic experienced these cultural challenges firsthand when her father, who fled Bosnia in the 1990s, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2015. She said her parents often struggled to understand what the doctors and nurses were trying to tell them, and that they sometimes felt disrespected due to their cultural differences. Though her father is now cancer-free, the experience stayed with her.

“At a very young age, I noticed that doctor’s appointments and hospital visits were scarier for my parents because of the lack of translators, knowledge and comfort,” she said.

Sadly, this was not the first time Valentina endured the cancer diagnosis of a loved one. In late 2011, when Valentina was a junior at Presentation Academy in Louisville, a man who had been instrumental in helping the family get settled in Louisville after fleeing Bosnia—and had since become something of a father figure to Valentina and her three older siblings—was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He passed away within months.

“It was the first person I had lost in that way, and it happened so fast,” she said.

But through that dark time, Valentina once again found a bright spot in the nurses who cared for her friend. She recalls their boundless compassion and small acts of kindness that helped ease some suffering—not just for their patient, but for his loved ones as well.

“They were here for his close friends and family members too,” Valentina said. “They turned something that was sad and scary into something a little better.”

Now, Valentina is using those difficult experiences to change the world for patients and their families by offering them the same kindness, support, and understanding that she appreciated.

“I want to be that person that reminds patients that they can overcome what they are going through, or, if they are coming to the end of their life, make their last few weeks a little better,” Valentina said.

Valentina, who will continue her job as a telemetry nurse at Norton Children’s Hospital upon graduation this spring, said that she credits her Spalding professors for not only teaching her the technical skills to provide expert nursing care, but also for reinforcing the importance of connecting with patients as well. As a transfer student from a larger nursing program, Valentina said she appreciates Spalding’s smaller class sizes, and the personal attention she has received from her professors.

“My professors have put an emphasis on the fact that compassion encompasses nursing,” Valentina said. “I want to fully acknowledge patients’ cultural differences and include their translators so that they completely understand their medical diagnosis and recommended courses of treatment. And if they don’t, I want them to feel comfortable enough to ask questions.”


At Spalding University, a typical undergraduate student can expect the following:

**Final-exam weeks with only one or two tests to cram for.

**Opportunities to focus all your class and study time on a course you really love, or on a course you find really difficult and needs extra attention.

**A full week off every six weeks to recharge your batteries and do what you want to do.

That sounds pretty good, right?

That’s how it works all year at Spalding, which is unique from other universities in Kentucky by having a nontraditional academic schedule made up of six six-week blocks in which students typically take only one or two classes at a time.

“When I first heard about it,” Spalding sophomore health science major Ontario Hullum said, “I thought it was too good to be true.”

But it is true. Spalding was ranked by as one of the nation’s five best colleges with nontraditional schedules.

Hullum said Spalding’s schedule makes college feel less stressful.

“At other colleges, you take like five exams toward the end of a semester, and that’s real stressful and makes that whole week really hectic,” he said. “Here, you take two exams every session, and it just spreads things out.”

Spalding’s format is designed for students still to graduate in four years and get all the credits they need. Staff and faculty advisers work closely with students to help them stay on top of their requirements.

“(The six-week schedule) makes it easier for you to do your work and manage your time,” said Marcus Montgomery, a sophomore majoring in business administration. “Instead of having five classes throughout the week, you have only two at the most, and you definitely have time to do your work.”

Now that he’s accustomed to the rhythm of taking one or two classes at a time for six weeks each, Montgomery said, “I couldn’t imagine going to another school and taking like five classes for a whole semester.”

How Spalding’s block schedules work

Spalding has six six-week sessions (three per semester) during the primary academic year, plus another six-week session during the summer.

Just like at universities with traditional semester-long sessions, Spalding advises students to take an average of 15 credit hours (or essentially five classes at three credit hours each) per semester, according to Academic Support Director Katherine Walker-Payne.

With three six-week blocks per semester, that means that a typical Spalding student might have one six-week session with one class per semester and two six-week sessions with two classes per semester. (Some students take more than two classes in a session, potentially setting themselves up to graduate in less than four years.)

A typical class meets four straight days each week (Monday through Thursday) for 100 minutes, condensing more class time into a shorter period. (Another popular aspect for undergrads is that almost everyone has Fridays off.)

Junior Carly Lynch said the six-week sessions were the main reason she chose Spalding, and they’ve helped her succeed in working toward a double major in health science and psychology.

Lynch knew she wanted to pursue a career in occupational therapy, and she liked that Spalding would put her on that path while letting her focus at any given time on just one or two of her important required courses, instead of five or six at once.

“I have Anatomy and Physiology II right now, and I’m able to spend all my time on Anatomy and Physiology II and really learn the material rather than just study for a test,” she said.

Walker-Payne echoed the sentiment, saying that the Spalding system gives students “the opportunity to really immerse themselves in subject matter over a short duration of time.”

“It allows them to progress through their degree program efficiently so long as they stay on track with their courses scheduled each session,” she said. “Absolutely, it’s a great way for students to dig deep into topics and really have an opportunity for deep learning.”

Good for working students

Spalding students who have jobs said the schedule format makes it more convenient for them.

Pre-nursing major Olivia Johnson said being able to focus on one or two classes at a time makes it easier for her to have her job working the night shift at UPS.

Sophomore Brandon Cochran, who is majoring in creative writing, said he’s able to hold two jobs – in the university writing center and at a grocery store.

“I would not have that opportunity (to work) if I didn’t have these lighter class sessions (as far as number of courses being taken) that go by faster,” he said. “So if (wanting or needing a job during college) is a big priority, Spalding is definitely a good place because this is one of the few places you are going to be able to work a lot of hours and also not ruin yourself (academically), because Spalding’s class schedule is so flexible and manageable.”

Every 6 weeks, take a break

Students said they enjoy the weeklong breaks that follow the completion of each six-week session.

On break weeks, students often take a vacation, relax at home or pick up a few hours at their jobs. Students said their parents enjoy it, too, because it offers families frequent chances to reconnect.

“It’s fantastic,” Cochran said. “I’m sure everybody likes having breaks; I know I do. And we still finish on time, still have regular holidays and stuff like that. I think it’s great.”

The school year at Spalding does last a little longer than at most universities, extending into mid-June, but the breaks in between make up for it, Lynch said.

“It’s awesome,” said Lynch, who took a trip to Florida during a break week this fall. “I didn’t really understand it at first. I wondered if we would be in school for the same time as everyone else (as far as the yearly calendar), but we get out the same time as everyone else. It’s just a little later – in June – but with getting a week off every six weeks it’s worth it.”


Spalding University School of Nursing senior Scotty Brooks has received an award as the top nursing student in Kentucky.

Brooks, who holds student nursing leadership positions at the university, state and national levels, was named the 2018 Kentucky Nurses Association Student of the Year. He received the honor Thursday, Nov. 1 at the KNA Annual Conference at the Holiday Inn Louisville East.

It’s latest in a long list of accolades and distinctions for Brooks, who serves as president of the Kentucky Association of Nursing Students and the chair of the National Student Nurses’ Association council of presidents of state nursing associations. He is the first Spalding student since at least the 1980s to serve on the NSNA board.

Brooks is also president of Spalding’s Student Government Association and Spalding University Nursing Students organization.

“I’m really excited to receive such a prestigious award from such an established organization,” Brooks said, “but really it’s just a true testament to the faculty and staff and students I’m surrounded by every day. (At Spalding), it’s a nurturing, welcoming environment, and they’ve all been very accommodating and supportive. I’ve just sort of been the recipient of all that support. It’s really their award, not mine.”

Brooks also received a one-year membership to the KNA.

He will represent Spalding next week at the National Student Nurses’ Association MidYear Career Planning Conference at the Galt House.

RELATED FEATURE: Spalding student Scotty Brooks holds leadership posititions at local, state, national levels


Spalding University announced Wednesday, Sept. 5, that it has reached a milestone in its ongoing, largest-ever capital fundraising campaign: surpassing $30 million in total contributions since 2014. They have supported new construction projects, facility improvements and academic and scholarship programs that broadly impact campus and student life.

The $30.4 million raised to date is a record for a Spalding campaign, and it far outpaces the original fundraising goals – $20 million by 2020 – set by the university’s board of trustees when it voted to launch the campaign four years ago. The goal was officially upped to $30 million in 2016.

“We are extremely grateful for the individuals and organizations who have stepped forward in support of our campaign and the mission and progress of Spalding,” Chief Advancement Officer Bert Griffin said. “We’ve made improvements all over campus and have not used any tuition dollars to make it happen.”

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure added: “Through this campaign, we have provided our students and the community with more resources and services while making our campus greener and more beautiful. We are grateful to our many partners who are helping us meet the needs of the times and change our community for the better.”

Some highlights of the $30 million capital campaign:

● Nearly $11 million in student scholarships and fieldwork stipends have been or will be distributed by way of the campaign, including more than $4 million in federal grants for clinical psychology and social work students from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

● More than $7 million has been donated or pledged in support of a greening initiative that has beautified the 23-acre downtown campus. Completed projects include the Mother Catherine Spalding Square green space on West Breckenridge Street between South Third and South Fourth and 2.2-acre Trager Park, which, in partnership with Louisville Gas and Electric Company and the Trager Family Foundation, opened last fall at the corner of South Second and West Kentucky. The Trager Park site was formerly an unused asphalt lot.

Ongoing outdoor projects are the seven-acre athletic fields complex between South Eighth and South Ninth streets that will be the home of Spalding’s NCAA Division III softball and soccer teams, and the Contemplative Garden at Spalding University, which will be a meditation space at 828 S. Fourth St. that is designed to honor Trappist Monk Thomas Merton and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Thanks to a recent anonymous $500,000 challenge grant, installation of the playing surfaces at the fields complex is expected to begin this fall, and it could be ready for competition by late spring 2019.

FROM WHAS: Spalding works to build Ninth Street ‘Field of Dreams’

● Kosair Charities has contributed more than $1.2 million to Spalding in support of the Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana (enTECH) assistive-technology resource center, the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy and the Spalding School of Nursing.

RELATED: Spalding, enTECH receive $275,000 grant from Kosair Charities

● A $500,000 challenge grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation has helped raise $1 million to develop programs focused on restorative justice and restorative practices as well as Spalding’s Center for Behavioral Health.

● Nearly $1 million was raised to renovate the lower level of the Columbia Gym into a student fitness center and lounge.

● Other facilities that have undergone major improvements and modern updates are the Republic Bank Academic Center, which is the home of Spalding’s nursing and social work programs; the Spalding Library; the historic Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin Mansion; and the Egan Leadership Center Lectorium.

Why be a leader of one student organization, when you can be a leader of many – including all the way up to the national level?

That’s the mind-set Spalding University School of Nursing student Scotty Brooks has fervently adopted. Among his multiple leadership roles, Brooks is breaking ground for Spalding by being its first student since at least the 1980s to serve on the National Student Nurses’ Association board.

Brooks has also begun a 2018-19 school year in which he’ll serve as the new president of both the Spalding Student Government Association and the Kentucky Association of Nursing Students. The latter led to his national position – as chair of the council of presidents of state nursing associations. By virtue of that role, he is an ex officio member of the NSNA board.

Brooks, who is in his senior year in Spalding’s bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program, is also president of the Spalding University Nursing Students organization, and he expects to lead a big group of his Spalding peers to that KANS conference that he’ll preside over Sept. 28-30 at 21c Museum Hotel, just blocks from Spalding’s campus.

The NSNA Midyear Career Planning Conference will also be held in downtown Louisville, Nov. 8-11 at the Galt House.

To hold leadership roles at the state and national level “means a lot to me personally in the sense that it’s giving me a lot of opportunities for growth and development in my career and my education,” Brooks said. “It means even more that Spalding University is getting the name and the recognition that it deserves.”

Now 30 years old and having previously served as Spalding SGA vice president for nontraditional students, Brooks’ zest for the outdoors led him somewhat serendipitously to the Spalding School of Nursing.

After graduating from Trinity High School, he spent two years at the University of Kentucky as an architecture major. He said his heart was never in it, and he left school to travel.

He rediscovered a childhood passion for backpacking and rock-climbing and began to work as a nature guide.

Eventually, through his guiding business, he sought certification as a wilderness first responder, and in the training process, he said, “I sort of fell in love with medicine.”

One way, he concluded, that he could pursue both loves – guiding and medicine – was to become a search-and-rescue nurse. One of his clients suggested he look at Spalding’s nursing school, and that led to a new and rewarding climb toward a new career.

He enrolled at Spalding in the fall of 2015. Former Spalding Dean of Undergraduate Education Mistalene Calleroz-White served as Brooks’ success coach during his first year and encouraged him to seek out leadership positions on campus and through his major.

School of Nursing faculty members Patty Spurr, who is chair of the school, Becky Gesler and Christina Meek encouraged him, too.

“It’s made me realize that even though I’m 30 now, I’m totally reliving the college experience and doing what I’d wished I’d done when I was 18,” Brooks said. “… I’m just trying to really take advantage of my time here and experience all that I can. Not everyone gets to go to college once, much less twice.”

Gesler offered high praise for Brooks.

“Scotty approaches leadership experiences with a passion and represents Spalding University in the best possible way,” she said. “We are privileged that Scotty chose Spalding for his college experience. Scotty will pave the way for the Spalding School of Nursing in regard to state and national exposure. Under Scotty’s leadership, nursing will be forever changed.”

Brooks said he’s proud to represent Spalding and the School of Nursing because of the positive experiences he’s had at the university.

He said he values the culture Spalding President Tori Murden McClure has tried to create in which Spalding students always feel physically, psychologically and spiritually safe but also exposed to and challenged by new ideas and ways of thinking that are outside their comfort zone.

In the School of Nursing, “I’m being challenged every single day,” Brooks said. “They push, but they want you to push back and want you to succeed. It’s just the most supporting, loving environment I’ve been in academically. The faculty and staff over there are amazing. I would absolutely recommend it to anybody.”

Brooks recalled how one semester he was struggling in a difficult nursing class and “bombed my first test.” His professor made herself available to him for an hour every week – outside her normal office hours – to review material and test-taking strategies. He ended up getting an “A” on his final exam.

“I think there is support (at universities) everywhere, but at a lot of places you have to ask for it,” Brooks said. “Here, you don’t even have to ask for it because they offer it to you.”

After school, Brooks said he hopes to fulfill his goal of becoming a rescue nurse or a flight nurse, caring for high-risk patients as they’re transferred via helicopter.

Earlier this month, Brooks got recertified as a wilderness first responder when he joined McClure and a group of faculty and staff for nearly two weeks of training and camping at the National Outdoor Leadership School in North Carolina.

Additionally, Brooks’ recent experiences in leadership positions have sparked interest in new potential career paths. He said he thinks he might be well-suited to work in jobs involving health policy and health advocacy and could be interested in Spalding’s Master of Science in Business Communication (MSBC) program with a focus in health care management, as well as the nursing school’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

“Nursing is really an altruistic endeavor,” he said, “and to be the best nurse I can be would mean that I would need to help the most amount of people that I could in the best way that I could. For me, given all these leadership opportunities, I think that might mean more than just bedside care.”

Beyond his involvement in nursing and nursing organizations, Brooks is eager to represent all of Spalding’s students as SGA president. Brooks said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of former President Chris Muncy – who also served as the president of KANS – in keeping SGA and the university’s Recognized Student Organizations thriving and growing in profile.

“I’m so passionate about Spalding University, and having the opportunity to work hand in hand with faculty and staff and represent the entire student body is a really big honor,” Brooks said. “To go into my senior year with that opportunity is huge for me.”

Related: Nursing faculty Nancy Kern provides Hepatitis-A vaccines to the homeless

Related: Nursing professor Erica Lemberger named a ‘Health Care Hero’

Learn more: Spalding’s historic School of Nursing programs

School of Nursing faculty member Dr. Nancy Kern is helping battle the recent hepatitis A outbreak in a way that aligns with Spalding University’s mission of spreading compassion and serving underserved and vulnerable populations.

Kern, an associate professor in Spalding’s Master of Science in Nursing program, and her husband, Paul, who works for Louisville Metro Government’s Department for Public Health and Wellness, have spent a night or two per week for the past several months traveling around the city administering hepatitis A vaccines to homeless citizens.

Since November, Kern said, she’d given shots to about 450 people they’ve encountered in parking lots, under overpasses or in back alleys.

“I’m very aware that this is what the university’s mission is, and when I’m with my students, it’s just kind of reminding them, ‘This is what we’re called to do,’” Kern said.

Kern said she and her husband do their hepatitis A vaccine work, literally, out of the back of their car, attempting to approach homeless folks in an unassuming way so they’ll be more likely to participate.

The homeless can be among the most vulnerable to the hepatitis A virus due to a lack of sanitation in their living conditions. They also are at risk for hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and a co-infection with hepatitis A can have serious consequences.

But because drug use can be prevalent in homeless populations, those people tend to be leery of coming to a health department office or traditional brick-and-mortars medical facility to get a vaccine and or explain why they might be at risk. That led to the Kerns trying the mobile approach.

They offer food, some information about hepatitis and the opportunity to get a shot.

“If they’re not interested, it’s just, ‘OK, well, here’s some information,’” Nancy Kern said. “’If you know anybody who starts having these symptoms, tell them they need to get seen. Here’s some soap. Remember that hand sanitizer doesn’t work. You have to use soap and water to protect yourself.’ So we’re trying to do a lot of patient education but in a non-threatening, non-authoritarian way.”

Kern said she and her husband are happy to get two or three people vaccinated in a night, and over time, they hope that’ll build trust and get more people to participate when the Kerns show up again.

Kern is no stranger to working with the homeless, and she said she has “just always gravitated toward working with the underdog.” She has been a Red Cross volunteer since 1970 and has lived overseas and been exposed to folks living in extreme poverty.

“Many people just aren’t comfortable talking to somebody who’s homeless,” Kern said. “I’m not afraid of these folks. … I don’t care if they look disheveled. I don’t care if they haven’t had a bath in a while. I don’t care if they have a mental illness because my background is also in mental health.”

Kern has taken Spalding graduate and undergraduate nursing students with her on the hepatitis A street outreach trips and other service initiatives.

For example, Kern, assisted by four Spalding students, immunized 160 festival goers at the recent Pride Festival on the waterfront.

And last fall, Kern and Spalding undergraduate nursing professor Dr. Rebecca Gesler took a group of nursing students to Grundy, Va., to participate in the Remote Area Medical free clinic for underserved and uninsured individuals. The Spalding volunteers worked closely with dentists providing free dental care.

Kern said service learning is valuable to nursing students.

“With my students, they’re learning more about infection, about infectious disease, infection prevention with vaccination,” she said. “They learn patient education approaches.”

And as for working with homeless and other underserved populations, Kern said, “some students have never been confronted with something other than the life that they know. That’s what service learning is about.”

Kern has taught at Spalding for 10 years. A nurse practitioner who received her MSN and doctorate of education in leadership (EdD) from the university, Kern teaches graduate courses in health assessment, adult primary care and the theoretical foundations of nursing as well as a scholarly synthesis course in which she guides MSN students through evidence-based projects.

She is also in practice at Norton Occupational Medicine.

Asked in a recent interview during National Nurses Week why she thinks nurses should be appreciated, Kern said nurses have “the unique experience of being with you at the very best of times, like when your baby is born, to the very worst of times.”

“We enter a very sacred space with our patients,” she said.

More information | Read more about the historic Spalding School of Nursing

Spalding nursing faculty member Erica Lemberger was among the seven individuals or organizations to be honored Thursday night, Feb. 22, as a Louisville Business First Health Care Hero.

Lemberger, a nurse practitioner who is an associate professor in the Spalding School of Nursing, was the winner among four finalists in the Patient Experience category. Lemberger has spent much of her career as a provider and advocate for medically vulnerable and underserved members of the population.

You can read a Business First profile of Lemberger, which describes her career and the influence of her family on it. She also explains her philosophy on serving patients and teaching students.

Another member of the Spalding nursing faculty, graduate programs director Pam King, was a finalist in the Community Outreach category and was also recognized at the Health Care Heroes dinner held at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel. They were announced as finalists in December.

Lemberger is in her first year at Spalding and teaches undergraduate population and community health courses.

Before that, she worked with pregnant and parenting teen mothers in local public high schools. She also serves on the board of Family and Children’s Place, which assists children and families affected by abuse, neglect and violence, and she is a certified forensic nurse and sexual assault nurse examiner.

From the Business First profile of Lemberger:

Lemberger’s resume reads like a primer on how to immerse yourself in a community’s hardest problems. As a family nurse-practitioner, she’s worked with chid abuse victims, cancer patients, homeless populations, pregnant teens and hospice. She was on a Louisville Metro racism task force, and she’s maintained a long and active involvement with Family and Children’s Place, Louisville and Southern Indiana’s only domestic abuse shelter.

“I hear people say, ‘How can you do that, it’s so hard?’ But that’s when people need us most,” Lemberger said. “I like working with people who don’t have a voice or are going through particularly difficult times in their lives. We all want to be heard, and we all want to be loved and do well.”

Read more about the historic Spalding School of Nursing the rest of the Spalding nursing faculty.