One of the defining aspects of the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing is our faculty and staff. Our people are highly motivated and, themselves, answering the calling of their lives. They have deep professional experience, but equally as important, they are enthusiastic, passionate teachers, their commitment will make your time at Samford richer by far.
Most Outstanding 2009 Graduate (master’s, Samuel Merritt)
Geri Beers has a soft spot for helping those who are less fortunate. She has worked tirelessly to help the homeless and those without insurance or transitioning off welfare through her work with organizations like Interfaith Hospitality and M-Power Health Clinic. This passion is rivaled only by her love for animals. "I have picked up dogs, cats, kittens and puppies off the side of the road, out of parking lots or from people who didn’t want them all of my adult life," she said. "One of my daughter’s earliest memories is sitting in her car seat and holding puppies I had picked up." Beers currently has four rescue dogs of her own, and she has placed dogs from Florida to New Hampshire.
Amy Bigham has a huge shark phobia, but she loves the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. The only thing that trumps it is her love for God, her family and teaching at Samford University. Bigham joined the Samford faculty two years ago, and since that time, she has participated in the development and implementation of CampUs. The weeklong summer camp experience for children with special healthcare needs was created by Bigham and fellow coworkers Jill Cunningham, Cyndi Cortes and Jane Holston and is funded through an academic initiative grant from Samford. "The camp’s name came from a child who complained that he never fit in with regular summer camp experiences, and he said that he was glad there was 'finally a camp for us'," she said. Bigham, whose favorite Scripture is Psalm 139, loves "teaching at Samford University because faculty are encouraged to nurture students through the learning process."
Rhonda Brazil started part time at Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing in 2010 and within four months was hired full time. "I love working at Samford," she said. "I love hearing the students’ excitement when I am walking across campus when they come back from summer break and they are all excited to see their friends and get back in the swing of things." Brazil still recalls witnessing her first pinning ceremony at the nursing school: "It was so touching, I cried." Brazil is a big NASCAR fan—"Go Jeff Gordon, number 24!"—who loves Psalm 55:22, "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you." She has been married for 21 years and has three sons and two grandchildren.
Terri Cahoon truly believes the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "I am a part of all that I have met." Since coming to Samford University in 2003 after being recruited by two professors who were starting the nurse anesthesia program, Cahoon has worked to make a difference. "I know that I have been shaped by so many people I have been blessed to know. I cherish the fact that others have shared themselves with me and made me what I am. I realize the responsibility to honor their generosity by paying it forward and helping shape the lives of those around me. I also like to remind our students that many preceptors, family members, supporters and others have contributed to their education. I encourage them to pay it forward," she said.
Andrea Collins knows better than most the value of a Samford University education. "I joke that when Samford offered me admission in 1984 that they did not realize it was for life," she said. Collins has four nursing degrees from Samford. After earning her associate and bachelor's degree—she was pinned by Ida V. Moffett and has the pictures to prove it—Collins stepped away from the classroom for almost 20 years before a medical mission trip to Honduras opened up new doors of interest. "Working in this capacity gave me a desire to become a nurse practitioner so I could provide similar care to patients in the U.S. I looked at other options, but was drawn back to Samford because of the mission, reputation, pass rates and high academic standards in Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing." She eventually went on to earn her doctorate and uses her real-world experiences to help with the practical application of textbook information. "I can't imagine teaching anywhere else," she said.
Cyndi Cortes firmly believes God equips and prepares us for each step of life's journey. While working at Children's Hospital, Cortes developed a love and concern for children and adults with special health-care needs. Now in her position at Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, Cortes helps prepare family nurse practitioners to provide health-care services to people of all ages, including those with special health-care needs. Cortes developed a process to review and approve clinical placements for Samford University students in more than 25 states and to streamline the communication between clinical preceptors regarding Samford students. In addition, she helped plan, organize and implement CampUs, a summer day camp for children with special health-care needs. Cortes and her husband lived in Mexico for four years—both her children were born there—and believe this exposure helps her tremendously. "With my red hair, people don't expect me to speak Spanish or to really understand the Hispanic culture," she said.
Jill Cunningham's life has shaped her experiences as a nurse practitioner. After providing full-time patient care in hospitals and clinics for seven years, Cunningham became the full-time care provider for her daughter who was born with multiple special health-care needs. When she decided to return to the workforce, Cunningham realized she wanted to teach others how to properly care for patients with life-altering conditions and disabilities. "I realized by teaching others, I could have a much greater and far-reaching impact on patients and families. I not only wanted to impart knowledge and skills, but also teach the compassion and spiritual aspects of proper nursing care. Samford was the perfect fit for me to reach not only my career goals, but many personal and spiritual goals. My work at Samford is not a job or a career. It is my vocation—a divine calling to teach and serve others. It is an incredible blessing to serve and fulfill my God-given purpose through my work and life at Samford University," she said.
It didn't take Debbie Duke long after she arrived at Samford University almost five years ago to realize it was a special place. "I had been working at Samford for 20 days when I was in a horrible car accident. I had no sick time or vacation accrued and can remember lying in intensive care worried about the lost wages but also about my new position. The care and concern from Samford, specifically my coworkers, will be remembered by my family and myself forever," said the Samford alum. Duke, who received the Living Legacy award in 2012, values all she's gained from Samford. "Samford is family, and I love that this institution truly lives its mission."
Heidi Emanuel came to Samford University as a non-traditional, second-degree student and found her purpose. "Behind these gates is God's perfect purpose for my life. He meant for me to be a nurse," she said. "It is my passion to teach nursing and connect students with their purpose in life, nursing. I am blessed to teach in an environment that builds the whole student and focuses on the total wellness of each patient." Emanuel marvels at watching the students in their first clinical nursing course evolve from being afraid to enter a patient room in the clinical setting to confident men and women who walk into a room and provide care. "Knowing that I had a small, small part in their growth is tremendously rewarding."
For more than 12 years, Margaret P. Findlay has been a familiar face around Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing. Findlay taught in the undergraduate program from 2001 to 2008 before moving to the graduate program. "Samford University is a wonderful place to teach nursing. The administration, faculty and students value excellence in education. The quality and positive reputation of our graduates are testaments to the excellence of the educational experience," she said. Findlay is currently the coordinator for the RN–M.S.N. program and the M.S.N. nurse educator option in the nursing school. She loves spending time with her family, including her grandchildren and yellow Labradors.
When David Fort arrived at Samford University, he knew his life was about to change. "I knew little about Samford until I was told they had a nurse anesthesia program opening up. The day I drove on to the Samford campus and walked into the nursing school, I knew the Lord had led me to this wonderful university for a reason." Fort, a Samford alum, was a recipient of the Agatha Hodgins award for most outstanding nurse anesthesia student and has worked in the department of nurse anesthesia for seven years. He feels fortunate to be able to give back. "Attending Samford was a wonderful experience that I will always be grateful for. I love Samford and its Christian ministry. It is a great pleasure to be able to help guide young people, not only academically but spiritually."
Although Crystal Grier is new to Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, she is a familiar face around the Samford University campus. Grier worked for Cumberland School of Law for 10 years before leaving to stay home with her family for two years. She was named coordinator of graduate student services in October 2013.
Lisa Gurley is a Samford University alumnus who has experience in surgical intensive care, perioperative and adult medical-surgical nursing. She served as an instructor at Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing from 2003–05 and currently serves as the coordinator of the accelerated second degree program and assistant professor. Her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Tanual Hall joined the staff of Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing nine years ago after retiring as a budget manager from Bellsouth TeleCommunications where she worked for 26 years. Hall believes in getting the job done and having fun doing it. She loves football and lives by her father, William Jackson’s quote, "Treat everybody right and be particular."
Julie Austin Head had no idea how much her life would change when she came to Samford University in 2007. "My husband was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer in June 2010 and subsequently passed away in November 2011, leaving me with two small children. What a plan the Lord had for me to be at Samford, knowing the trials I would go through. I cannot imagine being anywhere else and having the kind of support I have had and continue to have from coworkers and students." Since joining the faculty, Head has taken the missions course from an in-class elective to an immersion experience on a foreign mission field. In her free time, she loves being outdoors. "Hiking and kayaking are two of my favorite things to do."
For Melanie Wise Henningsen, there is no place like home. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Samford University, Henningsen worked as a part-time clinical instructor where she developed a love for the education and development of future nurses. She became a full-time employee in August 2013. Henningsen desires for students to gain confidence prior to entering a hospital and strives to be an encouragement and show them nursing is an attainable and rewarding profession when hard work and dedication are applied. "The clinical skills lab allows students the ability to have practice and supervision before entering the clinical facilities. I have thoroughly enjoyed my interaction with the students and families, faculty and staff and Samford University. This just feels like home," she said.
Jane Holston is not surprised by her position in Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing. "I always knew I would one day return to Samford to teach, but I thought it would be many years down the road." In 2010, after working for six years as a family nurse practitioner, Holston realized she needed a more flexible schedule and began working as a clinical instructor in undergrad nursing before moving to a full-time position in the family nurse practitioner program. As part of her doctoral project, Holston produced an educational video on head injuries that is currently used across the country to educate parents, athletes and coaches on the dangers of improperly handling a concussion. Although life has sometimes gotten hectic for Holston, she doesn’t have any regrets about her decision to work at Samford. "I love it here," she said, "and I can’t imagine being anywhere else."
Eleanor V. Howell began her service as Dean of the Ida V.Moffett School of Nursing in July 2014. Howell served as dean ofCreighton University's College of Nursing in Omaha, Neb. for 11years prior to joining the Samford family.During her tenure as dean at Creighton, Howell expertly lednumerous academic innovations in the College of Nursing includingestablishing Nebraska's first doctor of nursing practice programand the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) program, for which Creightonwas one of only a handful of national pilot programs. The schoolalso developed a health screening collaboration with Omahaparochial schools and a number of other community and clinicalpartnerships.Prior to assuming her position as dean at Creighton, Howellserved as associate dean for academic and clinical affairs,responsible for undergraduate and graduate nursing programs onCreighton's campuses in Omaha and Hastings, Neb. Howell alsodirected the master's in health services administration program atCreighton from 1998 to 2000, and was a core faculty member in theCenter for Practice Improvement and Outcomes Research. Howellpreviously served as associate professor and coordinator of specialprojects at Auburn University's School of Nursing and on thefaculty at University of Alabama at Birmingham School ofNursing.
When John Lundeen and his wife drove by Samford University on his way to a job interview, he looked at the school gates and knew something good was going to happen there. Five years later, Lundeen enrolled at Samford, and after graduating with a 4.0 in the RN-M.S.N. educator track, he applied for an instructor position. "One of my earliest and best memories that I have of Samford is that of being led in prayer by a faculty member during an orientation session on my first day on campus. As a Christian coming from a public school system, that was a new but welcomed experience. That moment changed me forever, and I knew and felt that God's hand was on my shoulder, guiding me on the path that He had laid out for me. I'm still following his lead and loving every minute of it," he said.
Since returning to Samford University in 2012 after taking a few years off to stay home with her children, Allyson Maddox has been busy. "I came back to Samford in June 2012 in the family nurse practitioner department and moved to the office of graduate student services in March 2013, first as the coordinator of graduate student services and then as the director." She lives by the Joel Osteen quote, "When you are committed to doing what's right, you are sowing seeds for God's blessings. You will never go wrong by taking the high road and doing more than is required." Maddox has been married to her husband, Shane, for 18 years and has three children, Hope, Martha Grace and Gabe.
Elaine Marshall tries daily as an assistant professor in Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing to live out her favorite scripture, Micah 6:8, "What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God." Marshall, a Samford alumna, has worked full time with the faculty since 1996. She is most proud of her work with The Chandler Mountain Project, a partnership between the nursing school, State Department of Health and Baptist Health Foundation, which provided a primary health-care clinic targeting migrant farm workers and their families in northeast Alabama.
As the first graduate faculty member to be hired at Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing in 1996, Jane S. Martin has played a large role in the growth and development of the school’s program. "My job was to coordinate the family nurse practitioner program. I had four students in the first class," she said. "It was my job to develop all of the nurse practitioner courses and to develop all of the clinical sites for the program." Over the years, when she has not been busy raising rescue cats—she currently has three, Charles, William and Harry—or indulging in her love of antiques and vintage things, Martin has continued to make an impact at the nursing school and beyond. Her biggest accomplishment still remains attending the graduation in May 1998 for the first graduating master of science in nursing [M.S.N.] class. "I felt like I had played an important role in that big accomplishment."
Birmingham native Gretchen McDaniel sees working in Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing as a dream come true. As a child, McDaniel witnessed how Samford University always opened its doors to the community—she often used Samford’s indoor pool when her high school swim team practiced. After she became interested in nursing education, McDaniel knew she wanted to be a part of Samford’s nursing school faculty. She has assisted with the development of new graduate programs, including the doctor of nursing degree program. "My current position is a fulfillment of this dream," she said. "It is a blessing to me to be a part of the Samford community and to have the opportunity to work with some of the best people in the world."
Nina McLain truly believes she has found her place at Samford University. While working on her Ph.D.—after 15 years of working as a clinical anesthesia practitioner—she was told about a new program at Samford that would offer her the opportunity to learn a lot from lifetime educators. "The amazing peace I felt as I walked across the campus and the warmth from the dean and faculty let me know this was now home. I have not regretted my decision once," she said. A member of Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing’s nurse anesthesia department since 2006, McLain has climbed the ranks from assistant professor and is currently working on a faculty development research grant. In her free time, she loves deep-sea fishing, sings in a choir and writes children’s books.
Megan Mileski believes her instructors played a huge part in her career choice. "The dedication, expertise and compassion shown by my professors influenced my decision to become a nurse educator because I wanted to do the same for nursing students," she said. During her senior year at Samford, Mileski directed a sweepstakes winning Step Sing show. She loves Ephesians 2:8–9, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."
Becky Morgan fell in love with the Samford University campus while spending time there with her son, Malone, who works with the women’s basketball team during practice. "When I was looking for a job, Samford was the first place I looked," said Morgan who started her position in 2013. "I feel very blessed to have found a position that is perfect for me. I love working at Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing."
Jan Paine knows the value of good friends. “A good friend of mine, Trisha Stovall, worked as a nurse recruiter for Baptist Montclair Hospital. At that time, the school of nursing had offices at Baptist Montclair and Samford University. Trisha encouraged me to apply for a new position in the school of nursing.” Paine was offered the job, and has worked in Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing since 1990. She was even able to return the favor. “In 2011, a new position was created in the school of nursing for recruitment and admissions. I encouraged my good friend Trisha Stovall to apply for the job. Now we are working together helping students to become Moffett Nurses.”
Amber Patrick has seen her life come full circle since joining Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing faculty less than a year ago. As a 15 year old, Patrick accompanied her sister on a visit to campus during her sister’s college search and knew immediately Samford University was where she belonged. Patrick ultimately landed a scholarship to Samford and declared her major as nursing during her freshman year. When she felt lead by God a few years later to pursue a degree in nursing education and eventually started applying for faculty positions, Patrick didn’t look any further than Samford. "This place draws you in—in the best way possible. It drew me in as a 15 year old, and I haven’t looked back. I now have the great privilege of being able to witness my students’ stories unfold here. I couldn’t be happier to be a Samford alum and a Samford faculty member."
Although Carol J. Ratcliffe joined the faculty full time in July 2013, her journey to Samford has been years in the making. After working in various nursing leadership roles, including vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer for 16 years, Ratcliffe also served as a member of Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing Advisory Board, was a frequent guest lecturer for undergraduate nursing students during their leadership course and was highlighted and profiled as a nursing executive by the school before she began adjunct teaching in the doctor of nursing practice [D.N.P.] program in 2010. A graduate of the nursing school’s first D.N.P. cohort in 2009, Ratcliffe was thrilled when she learned the school had developed a D.N.P. program in nursing administration. She feels blessed to have the support to lead and contribute to the nursing profession that is making a pivotal difference in the health outcome of Alabamians. “I chose Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing because of its rich history, faith-based environment, faculty and reputation as a stellar nursing program,” she said. “When a student says ‘I really appreciate your help’ or ‘thanks for teaching this course because I really learned a lot,’ it’s priceless.”
Cynthia Ritter came to Samford University in 1993 during a turning point in her life. "My neighbor was the bus driver at that time for the nursing students, taking them from their dorm at then Montclair Hospital to their clinical sites. He heard there was a new position being created in the school of nursing to help Jan Paine who had just had a baby and who was attempting to advise and register one of the largest incoming freshmen classes she had ever encountered. He told me he had 'put my name in the hat' for the job, and I have been here, working alongside Jan Paine ever since." Ritter has helped build processes in the office of undergraduate student services and has seen the number of undergraduate students grow from less than 200 to around 450.
Suzanne Scharf came to Samford in 2005 after a friend told her she was leaving her part-time position coordinating the continuing education classes for nursing. The position gave Scharf the balance she needed because she was still able to serve on the PTO boards at her daughters’ schools. Scharf, a native of Atlanta, Ga., is married to a firefighter, and their two daughters are now in college.
Sharron P. Schlosser firmly believes the truth of Philippians 4:13--"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." "Without his strength and guidance, I would not be the person I am today," she said. Schlosser received her nursing diploma from the Birmingham Baptist Hospital School of Nursing, which later became Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing before it merged with Samford University in 1973. She joined the faculty of the nursing school in 1975 as an assistant professor. She had the honor of knowing Ida V. Moffett, who assisted her with securing a scholarship that covered her tuition, room and board while she attended nursing school. "Mrs. Moffett was a very special person who saw potential in a young high school student…that foundation instilled in me a desire to help others and eventually lead to my career in nursing education."
Rosalyn Sewell’s relationship with Samford University began in 1980 when Samford and the now-defunct Montclair Hospital had an agreement that Samford female students would live and have classes in the new Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing building on the Montclair Hospital campus. She moved to the Samford campus 10 years ago. Sewell’s favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Relationships mean everything to Susan Sheffield. She first came in contact with Dean Nena Sanders through UAB. While working as a chief nurse in local hospitals, she served as a preceptor for her graduate administrative students. Later when she assisted as nursing adjunct faculty at Samford University, Sheffield eventually told Sanders she would love to be a part of the faculty if a position became available. In 2007, her dream came true. Sheffield has taught a number of undergraduate and graduate courses and has assisted with redesigning courses. “I love the students, my content area—my area of expertise—and the school of nursing. It is a wonderful professional and supportive environment.”
Lora Shelton is no stranger to Samford University. Shelton received her graduate degree from Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing and worked as director of student health services from 1997 to 2000 before joining the nursing school seven years ago. Since then, Shelton has worked hard to emulate the faculty she had by having a genuine interest in her students’ personal and academic lives. She has also developed a nursing missions international studies course and has traveled with Samford students to Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. “It is amazing to see medical missions through the eyes of a student and to see how the experience of an international studies course/medical mission can transform their practice of nursing,” she said. “It is also a joy to serve alongside our students.”
Amy Snow never really imagined herself on the faculty at Samford University. As with her undergraduate and graduate school years, Snow felt Samford was where she was being lead when she came to Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing four years ago. Snow, who has a passion for foster kids and orphans, believes it is a huge accomplishment when she sees students soar on their own. “Never in a million years would I have seen myself as faculty at this great institution. But He provided the opportunity, and I jumped on it. Day after day, experience after experience, He continued to display his great mercy and love. I am honored to be in the midst of such fine people with such a directed purpose,” she said.
When a new position for undergraduate recruitment and admission counselor opened in Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing two years ago, Trisha Stovall was recruited to come for an interview by her friend Jan Paine. “I used to work at BMC Montclair where the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing building was located and enjoyed working with their faculty and staff. I have always loved recruiting Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing graduates and now have the privilege to recruit students into the nursing program.” Stovall, who actually worked with Ida V. Moffett, loves Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Gena Sullivan has experienced Samford University in a variety of ways. Sullivan came to Samford as a college freshman and after graduating with a degree in business administration, getting married and working for two years, she came back to her alma mater as a part-time graduate student. In 2010, Sullivan was hired as a full-time employee of Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing. Her daughter is currently a student. “Having experienced Samford as a student (undergraduate and graduate), an alumnus, an employee and a parent, I have been able to use my experiences to share what a wonderful place Samford is with others,” she said.
Cami Tinsley joined Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing staff in August 2013 after working part time for six years. “I have always wanted to work at Samford,” she said. “I prayed about it a lot. God answered, and here I am. I have only been here a short time, but I am unbelievably blessed to be working with a wonderful group of people and could not be happier. This is more than a ‘job’ to me. This is a great place to be and a place I truly look forward to coming to every day.” Tinsley and her husband, John, have three children.
Rebecca J. Warr is no stranger to multitasking. When she first came to Samford in 1981, it was as part of a joint appointment with Baptist Princeton Hospital where she worked two days a week in the psychiatric unit as a staff nurse. She has also worked as a public health nurse for Jefferson County Public Health where she made home visits to chronically ill patients and assisted in various clinics. As part of her Samford duties, she has watched students go from being scared to death during their first nursing clinical experience to evolving into the students who experience “the light bulb moments” when they acquire the basic knowledge of how to function in a health care setting and understanding how they have played a role in a patient’s condition. Warr has also found time to apply for and receive a faculty development grant for geriatric stimulation with nursing students. In the midst of being involved in her career, she is never far from her desire to be involved with multiple projects. “I can quilt and make a soufflé at the same time,” she said.
Joy Whatley came to Samford University in 1975. Since then, she has worked in a number of positions within Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, where she currently serves as associate dean of the undergraduate program. She also assists in the nursing management course. Whatley loves “having the opportunity to work with the most incredible dean, faculty, staff and students.” She holds fast to Philippians 4:6–7, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Debra Whisenant came to Samford University in 2009 after completing a two-year National Research Service Award Post-doctoral Fellowship in Outcomes Research at University of Alabama at Birmingham. “I have been pleased to extend my international mission and public health work while at Samford,” she said. “I am also pleased to have developed relationships with colleagues that have facilitated the extension of international work.”