College of Nursing Honors 2012 Outstanding Alumni Award Recipients

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On May 18, alumni from the College of Nursing at UTHSC honored the recipients of its Outstanding Alumni Award series, which is coordinated through UTHSC’s Office of Alumni and Annual Giving.

On May 18, alumni from the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) honored the recipients of its Outstanding Alumni Award series, which is coordinated through UTHSC’s Office of Alumni and Annual Giving. Betty Witherspoon, EdD, (BSN ’71) was this year’s Outstanding Alumna, and Irma L. Jordan, DNP, APRN, FNP/PMHNP-BC (BSN ’97, MSN ’98 and DNP ’10) was named Most Supportive Alumna. The awards ceremony, reunion and scholarship dinner dance was held at the Memphis Marriott Downtown.

Outstanding Alumna

“There is no better gift than an education,” said Dr. Witherspoon. “It is the gift that opens doors to a better life.”

With a strong mantle of education and work ethic impressed upon her early in life, Dr. Witherspoon received her bachelor’s in nursing from the University of Tennessee at Memphis (as UTHSC was previously called), a master’s in nursing from the University of Alabama, and a doctorate in education from California Coastal College.

With her wit for science and math, and passion for caring for others, Dr. Witherspoon knew her calling was nursing. “I was influenced by watching a cousin and a friend’s mother who were both nurses,” she said. “I have always been fascinated by the health care industry, and I knew nursing was a profession that would bring great satisfaction and meaning to my life.”

After nursing stints at military hospitals in Germany and hospitals in Mississippi and New Orleans, Dr. Witherspoon compassionately taught nursing, with specialties in child care and mental health, for close to three decades at Tennessee State University. In 1988, she began nursing babies back to health in the neonatal intensive care unit of Vanderbilt University Hospital. She continues to share her craft with students and faculty members at Vanderbilt.

“UT in Memphis holds a special place in my heart