ATLANTA – As part of its annual alumni day, the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing of Mercer University will specially honor its alumnae who were members of the Cadet Nurse Corps – a federal education program that graduated more than 124,000 nurses across the nation during World War II. Expect approximately 10 cadet nurses to be present during the ceremony on Oct. 8.
"This year, Americans have marked the 60th anniversary of D-Day and the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.," notes Susan Gunby, dean of the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing. "We felt that this was an appropriate time to honor our alumnae who were members of the Cadet Nurse Corps and aided in the war effort."
Between 1943 and 1948, Georgia Baptist School of Nursing graduated 270 young women into the Cadet Nurse Corps. The program was created by the U.S. Public Health Service and was touted as one of the most successful wartime recruiting programs. As a scholarship program meant to alleviate the shortage of professionally trained nurses at civilian and military hospitals stateside, the Corps paid annual tuition ranging from $50 to $800, plus an average $25 monthly stipend. In addition, the Corps allocated subsidies to nursing schools that resulted in improved school facilities and curriculums, enlarged nursing facilities and enriched post-graduate nursing education.
One such benefactor was Lithonia resident Johnnie Wallace Forgay, class of 1946. Forgay, who later earned a bachelor's degree in health education and worked for Georgia Baptist Medical Center, says the Cadet Nurse Corps was a good opportunity to get her tuition paid and brought with it a "sense of excitement."
"I served in the Cadet Nurse Corps from 1943 until 1945, when the war ended," she recalls. "When I found out Georgia Baptist was going to honor the Cadet Nurse Corps, I was shocked. I thought we were forgotten people."
The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps accounted for 80 percent of the nursing staff in domestic medical facilities during World War II. At the time, Georgia Baptist School of Nursing was sending some of the largest classes nationwide into the war effort.
In addition to honoring members of the Cadet Nurse Corps, Georgia Baptist College of Nursing will recognize other distinguished alumni who have contributed in the areas of clinical nursing practice, community health service, mentoring, leadership in health policy/ethics/law, entrepreneurism, nursing education and nursing research. The Oct. 8 event will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the Trustees Dining Room on the Atlanta campus of Mercer University. For additional information, please contact Jenny McCurdy either by phone (678-547-6791) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org
About Georgia Baptist College of Nursing:
The founding of Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University in 1902 was born out of a vision to establish a Baptist institution for the training of "Christian nurses" to "heal the needy sick." More than 100 years later, some 6,000 men and women have graduated from the College of Nursing, now part of one of the largest Baptist universities in the world since its 2001 merger with Mercer. The College requires students to undergo a unique three-year clinical sequence and offers clinical experiences in more than 40 of the Atlanta area's most recognized healthcare agencies.