‘To do my best from dawn of day till night’
By: Joe Springer
Curator, Mennonite Historical Library

CV Image
front row: Lois Shank Musselman, Leona Yoder Baker, Mary Kay Sauder, Elnora Weaver Voth; back row: Ruth Beard, Florence Rheinheimer Harnish, Margaret Brubacher Ashley, Charlotte Hertzler Croyle; Orpah Mosemann at right.

Photo courtesy:
Mennonite Historical Library
Feb. 15, 1951 was a momentous day for the fledgling GC nursing program. Eight students gathered on the Assembly Hall stage for a lamp lighting ceremony to signal the end of their probationary period. College physician H. Clair Amstutz spoke on “Keeping faith.” The Gideons Auxiliary passed out white testaments and the women lit their small lamps from a larger Florence Nightingale lamp. After reciting the nurses’ pledge and a prayer by program director Orpah Mosemann (in photo at right), class members sang their theme song, Maude Louise Ray’s “My task.” In 1953, all eight women graduated with the first GC-conferred Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.

Churchwide and community discussions throughout the 1940s led the college to open the program in the fall of 1950. Initial plans for a Mennonite hospital in Elkhart gave way to a community-developed facility there. Still, Elkhart was the site for most clinical experience during the program’s early years. Draping their green and white striped pinafores with maroon capes, students trekked back and forth from the Union Building’s south portico to Elkhart General Hospital via De Soto sedan or bus. Further connecting the program to Elkhart were scholarships offered by Miles Laboratories for two students from each class.

On campus, the nurses took up quarters in the basement of Science Hall, prophetically naming their dummy patient “Mrs. Turner.” Mosemann was joined by Verna Zimmerman, Mabel Brunk and others who took seriously their task of developing a solid nursing education integrated with Goshen’s liberal arts program.

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