JSU nursing marks 50th anniversary with gala

Rebekah Hawkins, Associate Editor 

Since the start of the nursing program at Jacksonville State in 1967 there have been several graduations, white coat ceremonies and careers started. From travel nurses to local nurse practitioners to careers in other states, graduates of the Lurleen B. Wallace School of Nursing at JSU have gone on to great things.


JSU nursing faculty, staff, students and alumni listen to a speaker at the 50th anniversary gala in Leone Cole Auditorium on Saturday, September 16. (photo  by Camri Mason/The Chanticleer)

The year was 1999.

Julie Mueller Nabors finished nursing school at JSU and began her career.  She’s done obstetrics at the University of Alabama-Birmingham then post-anesthesia care at Regional Medical Center and then to Texas during Hurricane Katrina as a travel nurse. She’s done it all, and she’s just getting started.

“It’s been a wonderful journey,” she said. “What excites me about nursing is the options given. We all go through many seasons in life.  My career has definitely weathered these phases. I’m so proud to be a JSU Gamecock!”

15 years later Jessica Jennings Coby graduated from the same nursing program. She pursued her Masters of Nursing and is now a family nurse practitioner.

“Being part of the JSU nursing program is something I’m very proud of,” Coby said. “There were frustrating moments—that comes with the territory of nursing school—but for every frustrating moment there were even more inspiring and uplifting ones. My time in the JSU nursing program will always be special to me.”

In 2015, Ethan Smith completed his Bachelors of Nursing at JSU and went on to Rome, Ga. where he works in the intensive care unit at Redmond Regional Medical Center.

“Nursing school was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Smith said. “But the world is always going to need nurses, and I’m happy that I chose this career.”


Guests at the 50th anniversary gala enjoyed a fashion show of nursing uniforms from the past 50 years. (photo by Camri Mason/The Chanticleer)

According to Windon Edge, Assistant Professor of Nursing at JSU, the program graduates around 110-125 students in the bachelors program, another 100 from the bridge program and around 15-25 from the masters program.

Edge has been part of the nursing program at JSU for ten years and says that JSU’s program stacks up well against other programs at larger schools in the state.

“We emphasize quality education in all programs,” Edge said. “The quality of our baccalaureate program is evidenced by our licensure exam (NCLEX) pass rates. In a recent quarterly report from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, JSU Nursing has an NCLEX pass rate that exceeds both Alabama and Auburn.”

The 50 years was celebrated with a special gala that former alumni, friends of JSU, faculty, staff and administration of the program were invited to attend. The JSU Steel Drum Band provided live music, President Beehler and others gave speeches and there was even a fashion show to demonstrate changes in clinical nursing outfits over the past 50 years.

Edge says that the event was a celebration for the historic milestone of the program, and it is a milestone. Edge says that the program will continue to grow, improve and empower exemplary nurses to care for people.

So what is his favorite part of the nursing program?

“My favorite moment is always the white coat ceremony,” Edge said. “It symbolizes each student’s transition into the discipline of nursing as they are cloaked in their white lab coats by administrators during their first semester in the program.”

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