medalist Lea Ann Parsley (left photo) addressed this years nursing
graduates, including Anu Gopalan, 02N (right top photo), and Debra Ilchak,
02MSN (right bottom photo). Both students received the Silver Bowl Award
for dedication to nursing practice. Ilchak is pictured with Lynette Wright,
Nurses Alumni Association president.
Faculty honored at commencement were Rose Cannon (above)
with the Emory Williams Teaching Award and Darla Ura (below) with the
Distinguished Professor in Teaching Award. Joyce Murray received the Teaching
Nursing keeps Olympic medalist on course
Lea Ann Parsleys
life is dramatically divided into thirds. A volunteer firefighter since
age 16, she is considered a hero for saving the lives of a mother and
her wheelchair-bound teen. Parsley also is an accomplished athlete who
won a silver medal in the womens skeleton event at the 2002 Winter
Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. And she is a nurse dedicated to serving
others. Those qualities made her the perfect speaker for the School of
Nursings 97th annual diploma ceremony in May.
As she greeted graduates and their families, Parsley confessed that she
is more afraid to speak in public than to run inside a burning building
or race down an icy course at 82 miles per hour, face down on a tiny sled.
But in her heart she could not turn down speaking to her audience. It
feels good to be surrounded by nurses, Parsley said.
With so much publicity surrounding Olympic athletics, being recognized
as a nurse was a welcome change. Olympic competition, Parsley explained,
requires athletes to focus on their selfish side to attain
the level of fitness, ability, and concentration required to compete well
in a sport. Fortunately for Parsley, nursing and firefighting allow her
to step outside of herself and give something back to others. Nursing
offers balance to my life that other athletes dont have, she
Nevertheless, the profession has its own demands that require nurses to
be teacher, counselor, accountant, and magician. But at all times,
you will still be a nurse, she told graduates.
An RN for 10 years, Parsley is working on her doctorate in community health
with a focus on the health issues of public service workers, including
firefighters and police officers. Parsley had the honor of representing
them during the Olympic opening ceremony as one of eight athletes who
carried the US flag that flew at the World Trade Center on September 11.
Before the opening ceremony, the athletes had to carefully unfold the
flag back stage. As they began to unfurl it, the people milling around
them pulled back to make room for the tattered cloth. It was like
the parting of the Red Sea back stage, said Parsley, whose sister-in-law
lost a family member during the terrorist attack in New York. People
were walking up and touching the flag. It was incredible to watch the
power of the flag and the healing that took place.
Once the Winter Games began, Parsleys US skeleton team captured
three out of six medals. It was the first time the skeleton event was
offered for women and the sports first Olympic appearance since
In honor of her achievements and motivation, the School of Nursing presented
Parsley with the Deans Award for Inspirational Leadership during
the diploma ceremony. She embodies the values of scholarship, leadership,
and social responsibility as a nurse and as a citizen, Dean Marla
Salmon said. In addition to her superb record as a world-class athlete,
Lea Ann has shown all of us there are no boundaries to the important roles
nurses can play in the health of the community and those they serve.