Loyola University Chicago

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Excellence in nursing: Alumna supports future nurses

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Pat Wozniak (BSN ’59) grew up on Chicago’s South Side in St. Mary Magdalene’s parish. Her father was a steelworker, and her mother took a part-time job so their only child could attend nursing school.

“You couldn’t get baccalaureate education at most nursing schools back then,” Wozniak says. “I had a wonderful high school counselor who steered me to Loyola. And as an alumna, I’m proud every day.”

So proud, in fact, that she has pledged to support a general-purpose scholarship for the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing’s Excellence in Nursing Fund and has made a further provision for the fund in her estate plans.

“For me, Loyola was a dream come true,” she says, delighted to be able to help others realize their dreams. “I want to help men and women get into nursing. That’s been my plan for many years, and I’m happy to be in a position now to offer this support.”

Wozniak’s graduation pin bears the number 132. She was the 132nd graduate of the school’s first four-year bachelor’s program in nursing. Opening Loyola’s undergraduate curriculum to its nursing students was unique for a profession in the 1950s that trained mainly on the job. “Back then in most nursing programs, you were essentially ‘free help’ at hospitals in exchange for hands-on training,” Wozniak recalls.

Wozniak was recruited into the Veteran Affairs Health System. She worked with “difficult cases” including radical reconstructive surgeries and eventually moved into cardiovascular and thoracic care. Nursing education would serve as the basis for the rest of her professional life, leading to positions with the VA in Georgia, Kentucky, and Washington, DC, where she closed out her career in 1992 helping run the VA’s nursing scholarship program.

She continues her Loyolan commitment to serving people with various needs in her community as an Associate to the Sisters of Mercy. She also works with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and volunteers for her home parish.

Wozniak likes what she sees today at Loyola—particularly the new Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing building adjacent to the medical school on the Health Sciences Campus—and is excited to support it. Given the historic chasm between doctors and nurses in most medical settings, she enjoys that Loyola’s student doctors and nurses learn together in interprofessional education programs. “The collaboration between the two schools is right on target.”

 

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