Dr. (Sister) Janet Gottschalk

Remembering Dr. (Sister) Janet Gottschalk (1930-2022)

Colleague and Mentor of Faculty and Students of TAMIU’s Dr. F.M. Canseco School of Nursing

In any history capturing the impact of TAMIU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, the legacy contributions of the late Dr. Janet Gottschalk (1930-2022) will always be treasured.

While short of stature, her accomplishments and contributions to the School of Nursing were simply towering. With a twinkle in her eye and an ever-present smile, she could disarm any naysayer. Students were enchanted by her hands-on attitude, her vast experience, and her ability to help them see the world outside of Laredo. She challenged nurses to embrace a transcultural model of nursing that valued everyone.

Dr. Janet Gottschalk
Dr. Janet Gottschalk

In August 1996, three weeks before the start of the first semester for the first nursing cohort, two of the three faculty resigned, leaving just two. It seemed divine intervention that moved a dear friend and colleague and most esteemed public health nurse Sister/Dr. Janet Gottschalk to leave a retreat in England to come “help out a bit.” Her influence and energy inspired a generation of nursing students to embrace the concepts of transcultural nursing and human caring, serving TAMIU and its binational community from 1996 - 2009.

Sister Janet’s impact reached across the globe to address issues of poverty and social justice. She protested at the World Bank and the U.S. Capital and often seemed to have a very dark outlook. But she also took time to be with a student whose parents could not be in attendance for a swearing-in ceremony for new citizens. Janet had never attended one of these ceremonies before, and she was uplifted by being reminded how lucky we are to live in this country, despite all the flaws we see and the hard work to help unravel some of the deep troubles we face.

As especially noted in her life story, Sister Janet was a prolific writer, writing dozens of articles and papers and books and journals. As students graduated from the Baccalaureate Nursing Program, students publicly shared a brief reflection on the meaning of their community health experience. “My ministry is peace-building,” Sister said, “Trying to use every talent, energy, and opportunity God gives me to build a peace based on justice.”

Sister Janet would do so in community with others, speaking to groups, writing articles, lobbying legislators, demonstrating, committing civil disobedience, and studying and strategizing around issues related to peace and justice. One such initiative saw her present a TAMIU lecture offering insight on the effects of low-intensity warfare on the women in the strife-torn Mexican state of Chiapas, and the importance of the Women's Peace Petition.

Sister Janet was not angry or embittered by her work. She once said, "I have seen incredible violence, sub-human degradation, and misery. Yet I have also been humbled by the love, example, and commitment of courageous people throughout the world."

In 2018, distraught by public policies, Sister Janet inspired the formation of the Hot Topics discussion group in her residential setting. In April of 2021, she moved to hospice at the Philadelphia Protestant Home. She shared with several other Sisters that she was ready for her final journey to God, and she passed away peacefully on January 18, 2022.

Her legacy, memory, and spirit will always be cherished at Texas A&M International University, for it lives on in the lives and memories of the Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing students, faculty, graduates, and community members of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, México.

Sister Janet May 97 Commencement
Dr. Gottschalk (second from left) is joined by former College of Nursing faculty members Lisa Sanford, Dr. Gottschalk, Dr. Susan Walker and Natalie Burkhalter

Dr. Susan Walker and Sister Janet Gottchalk
Dr. Gottschalk (right) with former College of Nursing faculty member Dr. Susan Walker

Sister Janet May 97 Commencement
Dr. Gottschalk (right) with former College of Nursing faculty members Dr. Doris Rosenow


Related Link:

Dr. Janet Gottschalk’s Life Story