WSSU Nurse Alumni Organization Masquerade Gala raises scholarship funds

WSSU Nurse Alumni Organization Masquerade Gala raises  scholarship funds
November 07
01:40 2019

By Felecia Piggott-Long, PH.D.

More than 150 supporters of the Winston-Salem State University Nurse Alumni Organization participated in the Masquerade Gala on Thursday, Oct. 31, in the Anderson Center /McNeil Ballroom. On this historical night, participants were dressed to the nines in satin, sequins, pearls, lace, tuxedoes, gowns, masks, and crowns. 

Veronica Carter-Jackson, RN, BSN, ’90, MBA, served as the WSSU Alumni Gala chair for the third year, and Dr. Clifton J. Kenon, Jr. ’09, was the WSSU Nurse Alumni president. The purpose of the gala was to raise funds for the Legacy Award, an endowment fund for hardships that nursing students at WSSU may face. 

The evening opened with the song “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder,” the theme song for the first nursing classes. Rev. Dr. Lamonte Williams of the Wake Forest School of Medicine Maya Angelou Center offered the invocation and blessed the food.

WSSU is celebrating more than 62 years of producing stellar nurses. The School of Nursing was established “with minimal resources, and under the extraordinary leadership of Dr. Beverly W. Knight, Mrs. Gwendolyn Andrews, and other faculty and community colleagues,” according to President Kenon. Founding instructor Andrews, 87, lit a candle in honor of the Knight-Andrews Fund. The NAO Legacy Committee announced that the Equity-Based Threshold Fund holds $60,000 and donor-matching funds will continue to cause the funds to grow.

Andrews was honored to recognize the efforts of the nurses from WSSU over the years. “While establishing this school of nursing, we needed clinicals to further their training. Two hospitals said that they did not have any room for our students. We were able to use Katie B. Hospital, and later we did get clinicals at the larger hospitals,” Andrews said. “ Earlier, we had to go to New York, Nashville, but look at you now. I am so proud of you. I retired from N. C. Baptist Hospital.”

Gala Chair Carter-Jackson recalled that in 1990 when she graduated, the WSSU Nursing program was in jeopardy of being closed down. “It was up to our graduating class to determine the future of our program. Dr. Sylvia Flack pushed for that 100% passing rate. We were at risk, but we came from that history to financial support,” Carter-Jackson said.

“Nurse Sandra Wilder went door to door, sought support from the Raleigh Legislature, and leveraged community action and encouraged nurse alumni to ensure that this organization must continue to stand,” said President Kenon. “Dr. Sylvia Flack said, ‘Not on my watch!’”

The keynote speaker was Dr. LaShanda Brown, a research manager at Wake Forest School of Medicine. She received her BSN degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and MSN at Duke University, becoming a geriatric nurse practitioner. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Virginia with a dissertation on public health nursing for blacks in the 1920s in North Carolina. Her message was titled “Creating a Space of Our Own.”

Several awards were presented during the gala. Rita Darby received the Mary Scott Isom Distinguished Faculty Award. Constance Carlton received the Sandra Wilder Distinguished Alumni Award. Benetta Horton received the Debra Benbow Distinguished Alumni Award. LaToya Buchanan, WSSU Nursing student, received a standing ovation after explaining her plight with domestic violence. While raising three small children in a “toxic environment, I had to leave my husband in order to make life better. … The fund helps me to maintain childcare for my three children and helps me to complete my assignments and allows me to become a community agent of change. Thank you for your investment in me,” Buchanan said.

President Kenon recognized Dr. Joyce Roland and Dr. Bernetta Smith with one dozen roses for being Friends of Nursing.

The members of the 2019 Nurse Committee include Veronica Carter-Jackson (’90), Alisa Allen (’05), Constance Carlton (’02), Renee Harrison (’06), Dr. Clifton Kenon, Jr (’09)(’61), Shakeeka Misher (’10), and Dr. Joyce Roland (’61). 

The members of the WSSU Nurse /Alumni Organization 2019 Legacy Committee include Dr. Juanyetta Beasley (’03), Sharain Carter (’06), Tremonteo Crawford (’79), Nikki Shamaine Cousar (’06), Clara Douglas (’61), Charlene Garrison (’71), Renee Harrison (’06), Dr. Clifton Kenon (’09), Sandra McCoy (’75), Tiffany Miles (’08), Josalyn Mitchell (’11), Dr. Joyce Roland (’61), Karen Russell (’08), Randon Pender (’85), and Alisha Carter Thompson (’13).

The evening ended with special music and dancing. Music and lighting was provided by Randal Calloway/360Elite Entertainment. 

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