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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Musings on the 60th Anniversary

dialogue - joellen hawkins & angela amar - spring 2007


Courage and vision in starting a school at the end of a devastating world war, confident that nurses would need baccalaureate and eventually master’s and doctoral degrees  •  Pride in our graduates, in being an alumna and a faculty member  •  Gratitude for my own education at Boston College  •  Thankful for the opportunity to be part of a large university family that demonstrates caring and concern about individuals  •  Awe and amazement at what the program has become from its beginnings on Newbury Street to national ranking and recognition  •  A sense of history, of continuity, links with a past of which we can all be proud  • Mindful of our heritage from those who went before us—the students, faculty, deans, and staff members  •  Standing apart from classmates and faculty colleagues in other disciplines because we are privileged to be present at the beginning and end of life  •  Generations of commitment to caring, teaching the daughters and sons of former students  •  Humility at the privilege of mentoring the next generation of nurse practitioners and faculty members  •  Dozens, maybe 100 or more alumnae whose names are icons in the history of nursing practice, education, and research—few of these names will be remembered in a generation or so but their contributions may outlive the memories of their names  •  Thousands of alumnae whose names are unfamiliar or forgotten—these women and men are the backbone of nursing, the unsung heroes whose compassion and caring have made nursing what it is today, who have made our graduates sought after and valued across the country and around the world.

Hawkins, Professor of Women’s Health, has been part of the Boston College Community—as student, alumna, and faculty member—for nearly 40 years.


Joining the faculty of a school rich in history.  Following in the footsteps of nursing leaders who responded to the times in which they lived.  Walking the same halls as those who advanced the profession within the existing social, economic and professional context.  I stand in awe.  Within a profession seen as “women’s work.” And not always seen as a profession. Within a world without equal rights for women. Visionaries in the Connell School somehow knew that it could be different.  And set out to create change.  The legacy began. A strong legacy of the advancement of nursing knowledge. Having vision, and clarity of thought. Laid the foundation for a great school.  With each generation of faculty, the legacy continued. Building on the tradition of the foremothers. Creative scholars shaping the nursing profession and shaping nursing thought.  Strong arms to pull others along. Strong shoulders to help others to stand tall.  Incredible gratitude for my predecessors.  To borrow from Newton, because I stand on these shoulders, I can see farther.  The privilege of following brings the responsibility of leading. The responsibility of expanding the legacy. Building on the existing foundation. Responding to our times, anticipating future trends and soaring to new heights. So that those that follow can see even farther and dream a bit bigger.   The incredible weight of following in the footsteps of trailblazers. Are my arms strong enough to pull someone? Are my shoulders strong enough for someone to stand? How do we continue to blaze new trails?  Perhaps, it’s not just to follow in their footsteps, but to continue to seek what they sought and to chase their vision.

Amar, Assistant Professor of Psych/Mental Health is in her first year at Boston College.