The School of Nursing celebrated 65 years of nursing graduates on May 3 as part of McMaster University's 125th anniversary festivities.
Catherine Tompkins, associate dean of Health Sciences and director of the School of Nursing (SON), along with John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences, and Rebecca Cosby, president of the McMaster Undergraduate Nursing Students' Society, unveilled the Henrietta Alderson Gallery of Graduates plaque to highlight the photos of graduated nurses and classes that currently stretch down a long hallway of the School.
A reception was held for nursing alumni, faculty, staff, students and donors following the event honouring Alderson and over six decades of nursing graduates.
Alderson is one of three founders of the nursing school. She, along with Alma Reid and Florence Greenaway, were the core faculty members who developed the five-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) Program (later shortened to four years).
Alderson was the driving force in ensuring that students had a solid science base for the practice of nursing.
"We take great pride in the success of our graduates and it is special for us to be able to honour each and every one of them,' said Tompkins. "It is fitting that we are naming this wall after Henrietta because she is an important part of our past, and I believe that only by paying tribute to those from our past, will we truly be able to appreciate our present and future, and how far we've come as a School."
Speaking to the crowd, Kelton called the hallway "a harmonious place' and marvelled at the photo gallery.
"When you see graduating classes of three, you know that their PBL was easier than it is for us now," he said humourously, referring to the small-group problem-based learning classes pioneered by McMaster.
Kelton also called the SON "a growing, energized group of caregivers," adding "This is the best school of nursing in Canada, period. We do brilliant research, education and care here."
Leslea Anderson, a former clinical faculty member and friend of Alderson, spoke about her meticulous preparation and dedication to teaching, and said it was unfortunate she didn't have Alderson as a professor herself. "I perceive this as a void in my education," she said.
Speakers also described Alderson as a talented artist. On display were some of her paintings and miniature nursing student uniforms representing the different eras of the first 50 years of the School, which she stitched herself complete with shoes, purses, belts, caps and gloves.
Alumni in attendance also recalled fond memories of their time in the McMaster nursing program.
Ian Clarke, who graduated in 1980, has been working for the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services for 32 years. He is currently a health care manager at the Maplehurst
Correctional Complex, where he has worked for the last 12 years.
He said that because the classes were fairly small back then, he was able to form some good friendships, noting that a classmate of his lives about three miles away and the two still speak.
[View photos from School of Nursing's 125th anniversary celebration]