TAMIU’s long-time Nursing Champion
Readies for Busy Retirement Phase
“She's a force. She’s your go-to person when you want to make sure that something gets done.” That's how Dr. Ray Keck, Texas A&M International University president, sums up colleague Dr. Susan Walker, retiring director of the Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing.
Dr. Walker, a familiar face at both TAMIU and throughout the community, will retire on May 30 and begin what she calls her third and perhaps most promising “phase.”
“I'm looking forward to an opportunity to combine my pre-professional and professional experiences into a third phase that will enable me to realize some long-cherished dreams,” she offered, “I want to pursue research initiatives that I set aside; continue to support the Canseco School of Nursing through development activities and publish a compendium on South Texas herbal remedies.
“Of course, there's going to be time for my husband Gene, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren; playing the organ, and riding and driving horses … and maybe a little left over to read, think, and even cook,” she noted.
If that pace sounds not at all like conventional retirement, it’s not surprising. Dr. Walker’s storied career at TAMIU has broken ground, made history and set an institutional bar that’s the subject of state and national envy.
Dr. Keck said Walker’s character has been key to her personal and public history.
“She is sharp, fleet, analytical, aggressive, strategic … I like to think that her having been an organist has something to do with this,” Keck, a fellow organist, quipped.
In its 12 years under her leadership, the Canseco School has grown from 0 to 365 students, enjoyed an exemplary record of success of so-called “highest risk” students and developed a uniquely effective and supportive faculty team … including three valued faculty nearing completion of doctoral education who will create a core of doctorally prepared nursing faculty from Laredo.
Characteristically, she is quick to note her successes have not been solitary efforts.
“We have had enormous support and the shared vision of the Laredo community; an inspired and tireless faculty and, of course, the most dedicated students I've had the pleasure of teaching. And I must say that being part of a culture of caring, and working with University colleagues who have a love of teaching and who care for each other as well as the students has been truly remarkable,” she explained.
She believes that these combined support systems have created a caliber of nursing graduate keenly distinguished from others.
“I think our Canseco Nursing School graduates are united by a tradition of caring that intertwines a high level of technical skill with awareness of factors that impact the health of the community as a whole. They KNOW how to care because it is their core value,” she stressed.
What does she see for the future of the Canseco Nursing School that has served as her life's focus for so long?
“I know that it will continue to achieve top ranking in NCLEX-RN testing; establish a nationally recognized research initiative in border health issues; and see the eventual development of a College of Nursing and Health Sciences to include allied health degrees. I also foresee the number of Ph.D. faculty increasing to 50 percent—achieved through financial support for local expert clinical faculty. I also believe that joint degrees with universities in México and Latin America are in the near future,” she opined.
As she led her last Nursing Pinning Ceremony earlier this month, she reminded her beloved graduates of the charge they inherit from her.
“You are the ones who will determine the quality of nursing care and health care the residents of Laredo and the surrounding region will receive over the next 30 or more years. We know that nurses are the superstructure of the health care system; the strength of our system depends on the enduring strength of the nurses who hold it up. Go forward and care,” she encouraged.
For information on all nursing programs at the Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing, contact the School at 326.2450, visit offices in Canseco Hall, room 312 or click on tamiu.edu/cson
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