HUMANS OF THE U: LAUREN CLARK

“I’m a nursing professor at the U. My grandmother completed her nursing training nearly a hundred years ago at LDS Hospital, long before nurses could earn a college degree.

Grandma Beth told me about rolling bandages and cooking for sick patients. Once a woman dying from postpartum sepsis begged her to marry her soon-to-be widowed husband. Rules were rigid in the hospital dorm where nursing trainees lived. Dating was forbidden, and secret marriages, if discovered, resulted in immediate expulsion. At the end of a nurse’s three-year, unpaid apprenticeship a ceremony marked her entry into the profession. Each nurse was given a small pin for her uniform and a heavy wool cape embroidered with the LDS Hospital insignia. I was lucky enough to inherit those treasures. After finishing her nursing training, Grandma Beth went to Columbia University for more training. She taught nursing in Idaho Falls, then worked the rest of her life in a small community clinic in Grantsville, Utah.

When I joined the faculty at the U my grandmother had already passed on. I thought about her often and wanted to memorialize her career as a nurse. My extended family came together to name a room in the College of Nursing after her: the Elizabeth Ellen Holton Clark conference room. Her picture now greets me when I meet with students and colleagues. My grandmother never had a chance to earn a college degree. But she was a fierce supporter of nursing education. I may not be a U graduate, but I’m definitely a U supporter and a proud nurse.”

— Lauren Clark, professor, College of Nursing

We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at ThisWeek@utah.edu.