Contact: Christine Phelan Kueter: 434-982-3312
(5-3-2012) It’s the Gleason-Morgan triple threat.
On May 20, Katie Morgan, BSN ’12, and her mother Deborah Gleason Morgan, PhD ’12, will follow in the footsteps of their grandmother and mother, Joan Gleason, who graduated from nursing school back in the 1950s – when they earn their degrees from U.Va. School of Nursing (pictured, from the left: Katie, grandmother Joan, mother Deborah).
“It’s funny, when I was younger, I never thought about the legacy,” says Katie, a 2008 Henrico High School graduate who will work in UVA Medical Center’s oncology department after graduation. “Now that I’m in it, nursing feels like such a natural fit, and I wonder what took me so long to realize it.”
While mother and daughter didn’t attend the same classes and only occasionally crossed paths on Grounds, they often planned to meet up for lunch, talking shop at McLeod Café or at The Corner. But a professor and co-worker – John Kirchgessner, PhD, RN, PNP, a veteran professor who taught Introduction to Nursing – lit the fire that led Katie to the field, and Debbie back to school, albeit in different degree programs.
“I loved the class – it made me realize you can do anything as a nurse,” says Katie.
For Gleason, who successfully defended her dissertation in March, the PhD was a six-year journey after a lengthy, varied nursing career. Gleason, who currently works in a pediatric primary care clinic in Richmond, where she lives, has done stints in pediatric oncology, endocrinology, worked with children who are HIV positive and worked with schools as a diabetes educator.
“I’m pretty tickled that she’s following in my footsteps,” says Gleason.
For her part, Gleason wanted to be a nurse since childhood. Her mother, a nurse since the 1950s, “always left her nursing books around,” which Gleason, a voracious reader, thumbed through.
“By the time I was five, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she says.
While mother and daughter will walk the Lawn together and attend the School of Nursing’s diploma ceremony, on the North steps of the Rotunda May 20, they’ll note the absence of their original inspiration – grandmother and mother Joan Gleason – is battling esophageal and lung cancer. The elder Gleason, who attended her daughter’s PhD defense in March on Grounds, won’t be attending commencement due to her illness.
It’s an absence Katie and her mother will note. Joan’s absence, however, doesn’t dampen the mother-daughter duo’s excitement for the day.
“I’ve inherited the passion that I can carry on with so much excitement,” says Katie. “And my mom will be standing there next to me – I never would have thought this would happen. It gives me chills just thinking about it.”