Alumni Advisory Council
The Alumni Advisory Council primarily serves the School of Nursing to support its vision:
To be nationally recognized as leaders in health, addressing the needs of diverse populations.
- Educate others about and actively advocate for the school and its academic programs, community service and outreach, and research.
- Increase public relations and visibility of Auburn Nursing.
- Build a communication network among alumni about events including alumni activities, alumni-student initiatives, and school events where volunteers are needed.
- Attend two yearly meetings (spring semester and fall semester)
- Serve as a link between the school and alumni.
- Nominate alumni for school as well as university awards, among them the School of Nursing’s Distinguished Alumna/us Award and the Auburn Alumni Association Black Alumni Achievement Award.
- Offer recommendations and/or make introductions for the lecture series, continuing education, and lifelong learning.
- Actively support alumni engagement
- Help build philanthropic gifts to the School of Nursing.
2020 Distinguished Alumna Award
Dr. Terri Allison '85
Dean Gregg Newschwander presented the School of Nursing’s 2020 Distinguished Alumna Award to Dr. Terri Allison, a graduate from the Class of 1985, at the Virtual Pinning Ceremony held on August 7.
“As dean for 11 years, I have looked forward to presenting the Distinguished Alumni Award to one of our graduates. For me, it is a moment to reflect on the real extent a nursing education at Auburn can have in one’s life and the graduate’s impact in our world,” Newschwander said.
Terri Allison is, for the most part, an “SEC” nurse colleague. She holds the titles of associate professor of nursing, assistant dean for academics, and director of the Doctoral Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She is also an acute care nurse practitioner with more than 30 years’ experience.
After completing her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Auburn, Allison earned a master’s degree in nursing from Emory University, an acute care nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate from Vanderbilt University, and a DNP degree from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center. In 2014, she was inducted as a Fellow in the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Three years later, she was named a Fellow, Leadership in Academic Nursing Program (LANP) by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Among her myriad of scholarly efforts and accomplishments, Allison has published or co-published chapters in books and articles in professional journals. In addition to organizing continuing education programs, she has made presentations locally and nationally. She participates in university service activities at Vanderbilt, as well as in the School of Nursing and with various organizations in her community of Hendersonville.
A nominator states, “Under Terri’s direction and leadership, Vanderbilt’s DNP program has become a top 5 Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. Despite her status at Vanderbilt, Terri is an unapologetically proud Auburn University School of Nursing graduate! She was the most personable professor I have encountered in my academic journey. She has served our profession through her time with the Middle Tennessee Advanced Practice Nurses, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, and Sigma Theta Tau International. She comes “home” as often as she can to attend Auburn University and School of Nursing events. She is a fierce advocate for high quality education. She is an excellent role model and an Auburn School of Nursing alumna.”
Congratulations to Terri Allison for her distinguished service to the nursing field through her scholarship, promotion of health care, professional service, and remarkable impact on nursing education and nursing practice.
Nominations for the Distinguished Alumni Award are accepted throughout the year, and we invite you to submit a nomination. The annual recipient is selected by members of the alumni from the School of Nursing.
2019 Dr. Caralise Hunt '91
2018 Amy F. Brandon '05
2017 Annie Vosel '81
2016 Dr. Jan McAlister '91
2015 Dr. Susan Holmes '81
2014 Joel Shumaker '05
2013 Claudia Henderson '83
2012 Candace Mangum '99
2011 Dr. Angela Green '86
2010 Laura Moore '83
2009 Nancy Meisler '81
Nurse and Writer Extraordinaire
The Art of Keeping Secrets, a novel by Patti Callahan Henry, “brings to mind such authors as Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Dorothea Benton Frank—against whom Henry stacks up admirably… Southern fiction at its best,” said a review by St. John Flynn, host of NPR’s Cover to Cover. Flynn and a host of other reviewers are talking about the author, Patti Callahan Henry, an Auburn University School of Nursing alumna, is a New York Times best-selling author of fifteen novels.
Henry’s metamorphosis from a bookworm as a youngster to a celebrated novelist as an adult took her through a journey that passed through Auburn, Alabama. Her road to writing took a different route than most other novelists. Henry found the power of storytelling while growing up in Philadelphia. After the family moved to South Florida when she was an adolescent, she found sanctuary in libraries and began her journey into understanding the power of story to navigate confusing times in life.
Henry always wanted to be a pediatric nurse from the moment she decided to enroll at Auburn University’s nursing school. She started work at Egleston Children’s Hospital run by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta soon after her graduation in 1986. After graduate school at Georgia State University, Henry became a pediatric clinical nurse specialist at Shepherd Spinal Center until the birth of her first child in 1993. She took up writing as a full-time profession when she became a mom to her three children. According to Henry, she never thought of creative writing as a “job,” but as a way to reach into her own life and connect with others.
Q & A with Patti Callahan Henry
How was student life in Auburn?
It was life changing. Being a student there not only opened my eyes to the southern culture and life but introduced me to lifelong friends. I grabbed my student days by the handful—I was in a sorority (Phi Mu), a fraternity little sister, and a Tigerette. The nursing school taught me more than can be expressed. I do believe that the four years I spent at Auburn helped shape the rest of my life. It was and continues to be the most formative period of my life.
When you were a student in Auburn, did you ever think writing would feature in your life?
I never once considered writing when I was a student. I was singly focused on a nursing career, a goal I’d had since I was a young child; I never wavered. When I was in my mid-thirties, I started to feel a deep and hidden urge to write a novel. I wanted to honor what had nourished me all my life—the power of story. My career as a nurse and my years of education prepared me for more than just being a nurse.
I believe that nursing is one of the very best careers to have if you are going to have writing as a second life. As a nurse, my glimpse into the human drama, and into the lives of so many people, prepared me to dive into the lives of my characters. The empathy and the knowledge we gain as nurses prepare us for more than just a career in nursing—it prepares us for a life.
As a nurse, what prompted your interest in studying head injuries?
It was my fascination with how our mind works—most specifically memory. The brain is such an unknown frontier. In 1991, when I was studying, closed head injuries were beginning to be understood, and rules and laws about helmets were just coming into favor. I wanted to influence that by showing how helmets and protective gear decreased head injury.
Nursing and writing inhabit disparate worlds of thought. How did you decide to become a writer?
Both are about family, stories, and the inner secrets of our lives. My thesis and my work focused on head injuries. It was there that my fascination, awe, and also a healthy fear about the fragility of memories, began. Story helps make sense of the senseless, and can provide meaning in tragedy. Stories are our family legends, our beliefs, and our myths.
I believe that writing is a “calling.” I was always an avid reader, so writing was a natural outgrowth of that love of story. I was enchanted by mythology and how we use story to navigate our lives. My first novel was received well enough to prompt me to write a second. I didn’t write my first novel while I was a full time nurse. I started when my children were five, three and one years old—so at that time I was a full time mom.
I read about your involvement in the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, I was struck by the use of “lantern” as a metaphor. How do you use this metaphor in your stories?
John O’Donohue—my favorite Irish poet and philosopher—talks about how questions are a lantern to guide our way. I also love the imagery because it reminds me of Florence Nightingale and her lantern. But I have always used questions as a way to start my stories, to navigate where the story is going and how. I use them like a touchstone. The Favorite Daughter is the only novel where the focus is on a true medical condition. It centers on a family that must either come together or fall apart (or both) over an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. But I wasn’t so much trying to teach a lesson about Alzheimer’s as I was attempting to explore our relationship with memory and how it guides our life.
In her writing, Henry seeks to highlight both the need for scientific research for prevention and cure and the importance of story-telling. The value of clarity in disseminating information that she learned from her thesis writing, and her affinity for story-telling helped her venture into a world of fiction writing.
Patti Callahan Henry resides in both Alabama and South Carolina with her family. Her novels, The Favorite Daughter (Contemporary Southern Fiction), and The Perfect Love Song (A Christmas Holiday novella), were both released in 2019. Her most recent historical fiction (written under the name Patti Callahan), BECOMING MRS. LEWIS—The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis is now a USA TODAY, Publishers Weekly, and The Globe and Mail bestseller.
Black Alumni Achievement Award
Col. Simona Settles Black '94
The School of Nursing held a virtual luncheon on Sept. 30 that brought faculty, staff and alumni together to celebrate Black Alumni Week in Auburn. “While we cannot be together in the same room on campus, we are together in spirit that binds the Auburn Family no matter where each of us may be physically,” Dean Gregg Newschwander said, welcoming the group.
Dean Newschwander recognized the past winners of the Auburn Alumni Association’s Black Alumni Achievement Award who were present at the event, George Sneed (2016), Chris Martin (2017), and Keith Mathews (2019). He announced that Colonel Simona Black, DNP, RN, was the 2020 recipient of the Black Alumni Achievement Award.
Col. Black, a 1994 graduate of Auburn’s School of Nursing, received a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Texas and a doctoral degree in nursing practice from Vanderbilt University. With more than 25 years of military nursing and healthcare experience, she has served in Army nursing roles both domestic and overseas. Her most recent appointment was as the Command Inspector General at Regional Health Command in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Responsible for many nursing education and leadership presentations, Col. Black has a long history of advocating for positive work environments and investment in tomorrow's leaders. During her career, she has been recognized as the Fort Hood Nurse of the Quarter, two-time Meritorious Service Medal honoree, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. She is a member of the Army Nurse Corps Association, Girl Scouts of America, the American Nurses Association, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated.
Col. Black, thanking the people who nominated her for the award, remarked on her journey from California to Auburn Nursing to her present role, “I came to Auburn in 1994 because Auburn was the school of choice for my family. I was fortunate to meet mentors like Professors Constance Hendricks and Katie Jackson. It was Prof. Jackson who planted the seed in me about joining the army nursing corps, and I spent 26 years there and made remarkable friends in the corps.”
The School of Nursing congratulates Colonel Simona Black on her accomplishments!