Where the Best Gather

Every now and again, it is important to reflect on past shared experiences and gather together to reminisce about life's journeys both in and out of health care. For alumni of Bishop Clarkson School of Nursing and Clarkson College, it's a refreshing change of pace to connect with one another through treasured memories years long after graduation day.

The two days of reconnecting with their alma mater and former classmates began with warm, heartfelt greetings as the anniversary classes of 1967, 1977, 1987 and 1992 welcomed one another to Alumni Weekend held Sept. 14–15 in Omaha, Neb.

The alumni celebrations began with brunch on Sept. 14 on campus in Howard Hall. Alumni reminisced and reconnected with their classmates, some of whom they had not seen since graduation. Attendees reflected on their Bishop Clarkson School of Nursing or Clarkson College education and echoed positive sentiments toward their former instructors, both of which prepared them well for their professions.

Each anniversary class attendee received a memory book highlighting his or her graduation year, and guests discussed the importance their education played in a rewarding health care career. “It was a privilege to attend school here,” one alumna said. “I feel like the experience made me the best nurse that I could possibly be! I was well prepared for a career in critical care.” Another alumna said, “I hold a special place in my heart for Pat Perry and many instructors.”

Clarkson College President Dr. Tony Damewood updated attendees on the progress of the College and welcomed them back to campus.

Following the brunch, attendees were treated to a campus tour led by student ambassadors. Exploring the updated classrooms and facilities allowed alumni to see the advancements in educational experiences over the past 30–50 years. They experienced the modern Simulation Lab for the first time and explored the capabilities of the birthing simulation mannequins.


At the tour’s conclusion, College faculty and staff joined the anniversary classes in the Clarkson Service League Heritage Garden for the Heritage Garden Walk. The annual ceremony was a celebration to honor and highlight the amphitheater seat and three brick donations over the past year. The first brick was dedicated to Merlene Eddy, mother of General Education Director Lori Bachle. The 22-year service legacy of Jack Morin was commemorated with the second brick donation given by the Center of Teaching Excellence department. Another brick was donated in memory  of the student whose life was tragically lost in a campus shooting at North Lake College in Irving, Texas. The caring legacy of Facility Services Coordinator Kari Kelly was commemorated by an amphitheater seat donation from Clarkson College. Kari passed away in May, and her family was present to honor her memory and thank the College community for its continued support during the difficult season. The Heritage Garden Walk celebration pays tribute to the honorees’ lives and assists with the Alumni Scholarship fund.


A trolley tour of historic Omaha locations wrapped up the first day of Alumni Weekend. The tour featured many notable Clarkson School of Nursing sites and a memorable stop at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Dean Loya led the tour of the Cathedral and reflected on its 134-year history in great detail. In the late 1800s, Bishop Robert Harper Clarkson would preach to the congregation while his wife Meliora and two daughters listened in the audience. The Cathedral holds many tributes to Omaha’s early founders, and it has also played a significant role in the history of Bishop Clarkson School of Nursing and Clarkson College. Cappings, convocation and graduation ceremonies were held in the space, and the Cathedral is one of a few original Omaha landmarks still in use today. During the trolley ride, Carol Peck Kabat (’67) sang two Bishop Clarkson School of Nursing songs, “A Clarkson Nurse is Hard to Beat” and “Clarkson Girls of Kiewit Hall.”


Friday morning began with a continuing education event titled “Cultural Awareness Impacting Refugee Health Care.” Hosted by the Alumni Association of Clarkson College and the Professional Development department, the presentation focused on awareness  and the additional challenges providers must overcome to provide health care services to refugees in Nebraska. The event featured local experts on the topic: Nebraska Refugee Health Coordinator Kristin Gall, R.N., M.S.N.; Lutheran Family Services Refugee Resettlement  Coordinator, Jaleel Oladipo; and Tanya Howard, R.N., B.S.N., Clinic Nurse Coordinator at CHI University Clinic.

The panel explained the differences between refugees and immigrants and discussed the challenges refugees face upon their arrival in America. Refugees must meet mandatory requirements within a short amount of time, which often causes complications for them and their health care providers. The event speakers expressed the importance of health care professionals understanding the refugees’ perspectives, challenges and rights in order to move forward with the best solutions.

The Weekend ended with dinner and entertainment at Champions Run on Friday evening. Alumni enjoyed their continued conversation, creating a wonderful atmosphere for the final Alumni Weekend event. Musician Mark Weber provided the evening’s entertainment, which featured sing-alongs and musical numbers from every era. As the Alumni Weekend events came to a close, goodbyes were shared, and alumni left with more fond memories of their former classmates, friends and the College.