The 10-year anniversary of the Hunt School of Nursing started with one of the most important events for students entering the nursing field – the white coat ceremony.
School administrators formally cloaked 78 nursing students with their white coats Friday morning at the Medical Sciences Building II on the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso campus. The presentation of the white coats followed a keynote speech by Stephanie Woods, Ph.D., R.N., Hunt School of Nursing dean.
“When you wear your white coat today and throughout your career you are telling your community you have met the standard and you are worthy of their trust,” Dr. Woods said to students. “The weight of your new white coat should give you pause. You are now responsible for others and that responsibility is weighing. You will be the advocate for those that have no voice. You will take care of those who are no longer able to take care of themselves.”
In honor of the 10-year anniversary, a video was shared at the ceremony that highlighted Woody L. Hunt and Gayle Greve Hunt’s vision and inspiration when they made their generous gift to establish the school. Both credited the nursing school in crafting a better future for El Pasoans and their community.
Woody L. Hunt said he is proud to see the school has provided top-tier students, especially those from our Borderplex region, with an education they may have not received otherwise. And Gayle Greve Hunt stated she is excited to see more members of the community achieve their dreams of becoming a nurse.
“It is inspiring to see so many Hunt School of Nursing students staying in our region to serve our community and contribute to our mission of improving access to healthcare in the Borderplex region. Watching students transition from the classroom into clinical settings, where they begin to treat patients, reinforces the fact that this nursing school is not just changing the lives of each student, but the lives of everyone they touch,” said Gayle Greve Hunt.
“Our family is very proud to support Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso as they educate and train the next generation of healthcare professionals who in turn help El Paso increase its economic competitiveness and quality of life.”
The white coat ceremony is a rite of passage welcoming students into the challenging but rewarding health care field. The most important element of the ceremony is the oath that students take to acknowledge and reaffirm their choice to serve patients and deliver compassionate care.
“I’m super excited and I am sure all my classmates feel the same. We’re all ready to start school. It feels like a long wait since we found out we were accepted,” said Arenisse Sepulveda, from San Elizario.
“The white coat ceremony is such a motivational event. As a nursing student you already know what is expected. You need to be compassionate and have love for taking care of patients, but the responsibility is much larger than that. I felt Dr. Woods put it into words perfectly and I’m honored to be here.”
TTUHSC El Paso is the only university in El Paso that holds a white coat ceremony for nursing students. The coats and stethoscopes students receive were provided thanks to TTUHSC El Paso’s generous donors and alumni.
Also announced in honor of the Hunt School of Nursing 10th anniversary was the establishment of the Dorotha G. Waite Scholarship Endowment to help current and future students finance their nursing education. The scholarship was made possible by Dorotha’s daughter, a local physician, and her husband.
As a young wife and mother, Dorotha Waite knew that she wanted to build a life around caring for others. But she would have to put her dream on hold because at the time, women raising a family were not encouraged to pursue nursing. So, she
Nearly two decades later and in her late 40s, Waite finished her nursing degree. She worked for the next 15 years, proving to herself – and to others – that it is possible to have a family and a career.
Today, juggling school and family – or school and life – is the norm. The Dorotha G. Waite Nursing Scholarship provides support to students facing these challenges – students with experiences like Waite who might be pursuing nursing as a second career, going back to school later in life, or facing obstacles while going to school and raising young children.
Waite loved being a nurse and would encourage students today to never give up on their dreams of a truly rewarding career.
The announcement of the new scholarship inspired several incoming nursing students.
“It was such an emotional story. I was shedding a tear as I heard her story,” said El Pasoan Jackelyn Castanon. “Hearing how empowering Dorotha Waite was, is such an inspiration for all of us as we start our journey.
To date, the Hunt School of Nursing has graduated 824 students, with a vast majority of those graduates staying in the region. The school of nursing currently has partnerships with every hospital in the El Paso community, which includes both clinical rotation opportunities and job placements post-graduation. In addition, 75% of current students are El Paso natives.
When the Hunt School of Nursing seated its first class in 2011, El Paso County faced a 40% shortage of nurses compared to the national average. As we celebrate 10 years of educating future health care heroes, the shortage has been reduced to 20%.
The Hunt School of Nursing has contributed greatly to the number of practicing registered nurses in the region. However the COVID-19 pandemic has produced new shortages. The school’s mission has always been focused on meeting the needs of this region, but in a time of pandemic the school’s efforts are even more critical.