Cecelia Waggoner smiled as 150 PSU nursing students sang “Happy Birthday” to her last week in recognition of her 100th birthday.
“It’s quite an honor,” Waggoner said.
Waggoner’s birthday observance, hosted by the Department of Nursing, was a special day not just for Waggoner, but for current nursing students, who got to meet the woman who founded the PSU BSN program in 1971.
Waggoner graduated from the Mount Carmel School of Nursing in 1932 and had a career as a private duty nurse and instructor in health and home nursing before being asked to develop the BSN program at PSU in 1970.
Bobby Winters, assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, noted that Waggoner had to battle other established nursing degree programs in the state to create one at PSU.
The Kansas State Board of Nursing approved the PSU program in 1971 and the first class graduated in 1973.
“Not only did Mrs. Waggoner lead all aspects of BSN curricular development, she hired the faculty and mentored the new faculty in choosing their specialties and obtaining the appropriate education,” Winters said.
Waggoner retired from PSU in 1979, but has remained active and close to the department. She was a nursing education consultant and instructor for continuing education classes from 1980-1987 and as a nursing education consultant for the Kansas State Board of Nursing. In the early 1990s, she served on the master’s degree task force, which developed the MSN program at PSU.
Cheryl Giefer, a member of the Nursing Department faculty and president of the Kansas State Nurses Association, said Waggoner has had a big impact both at PSU and beyond.
“She’s spent a lifetime as a nurse and nurse educator and has exemplified leadership excellence,” Giefer said. “She was an integral part of the transformation of nursing from the vocational to the professional level in Southeast Kansas. Because of her efforts, many nurses and nurse educators have continued to serve our profession of nursing.”
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