Lifting Up the Next Generation
Providence College of Nursing closed its doors in 1972, but its legacy lives on through nursing scholarships awarded by its alumnae
Alumnae of Providence College of Nursing (PCN) found a home at Samuel Merritt University (SMU) thanks both intuitions’ shared and long histories on Oakland’s Pill Hill. Many of these remarkable women, now retired from long and distinguished careers, are committed to supporting the next generation of nurses through scholarships at SMU.
Anita Weber Wies, DIP Nursing ’60, credits her training at PCN for her highly successful 47-year career as a hospital nurse. She hopes to provide today’s nursing students with educational experiences comparable to what she received. Wies recalls that a high school guidance counselor suggested she investigate Providence College of Nursing. What impressed her most “was really the depth of the education and the commitment that Providence had to make us the best.”
Wies’ parents, Karl Robert Weber and Helen Przybylski Weber, had always stressed the importance of education. Wies subsequently became the first in her family to graduate from college. She valued the hands-on training available through Providence’s affiliations with several Bay Area hospitals. “The experiences we were provided were so complete,” says Wies, “and it was right in tune with what we were learning in the classroom.”
Those experiences also gave her perspective on how special her own education was. “We would meet and work with gals from four different nursing schools. The other nurses didn’t quite have the preparation that we did.”
Now, Wies has established a $1 million bequest creating the Anita Weber Wies Providence College of Nursing 1960 Scholarship Fund in honor of her parents. The scholarship will support nursing students with demonstrated financial need.
“Nursing is so important to me that I want other individuals to have the opportunity I had, which was to attend a stellar college of nursing and be taught by the best teachers,“ Wies says.
“My 47 years of hospital nursing was a wonderful journey for me. I received more love from my patients, their families, my coworkers, and doctors than any one person could hope for in this life. I have been truly blessed.”
Fellow alumna Patricia Murphy Ormsby, DIP Nursing ’64, observes that today’s nursing students face more challenges than she and her PCN contemporaries did. “It’s very expensive if you want to go to a private college, even a public college,” she says.
Ormsby remembers how cohesive her community of nursing students was, and she got the idea to award scholarships in memory of deceased classmates after her PCN roommate passed away in 2002. “I wondered, what could we do that really represents who we were and pay it forward? Why not ask SMU for help to achieve this? The alumni staff at Samuel Merritt University graciously accommodated all our requests to remember our classmates with a donation in their memory.”
The Providence College of Nursing Class of 1964 has raised nearly $15,000 for scholarships in memory of eight deceased classmates. Six Samuel Merritt nursing students have benefited from their efforts so far. Ormsby says she and her classmates enjoy meeting the candidates each year. “This last December, SMU hosted the PCN lunch at a Berkeley waterfront restaurant, and we met the two recipients of our scholarship donations,” she says. “They joined us for lunch, visiting and sharing their life experiences."
Ormsby acknowledges that today’s students face steep hurdles in attaining the same quality of education she and her fellow alumnae received. “I understand it’s not easy to pursue a BSN today. Sometimes it’s a far reach financially. We hope our class donations can make a difference.”