Division of Nursing Celebrates 55th Anniversary of First Graduates

October 15, 2012

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) will celebrate the 55th anniversary of its first Nursing graduates with a banquet on October 18, at 6 p.m. in the McNeil Ballroom of Anderson Conference Center.
A program that started with a small class and humble beginnings, today WSSU is one of North Carolina’s major providers of nurses and additionally, the program provided the foundation for what is now WSSU’s School of Health Sciences.  Many of its graduates have gone on to make great strides in the health care industry.
The nursing program at WSSU then Winston-Salem Teachers College was established in 1953 by an act of the North Carolina General Assembly. President Francis L. Atkins appointed Beverly W. Knight as the first director of the program and 33 students were admitted to the first class.  Eleven students graduated in the spring of 1957 and one at the end of the 1957 fall semester.  Dr. Mary Isom and Dr. Sadie Webster were among the first graduates of the program and both later went on to become Deans of the school.
Currently, the Division of Nursing (DON) is the third largest producer of newly licensed baccalaureate-prepared nurses (BSNs) and the largest producer of BSN prepared nurses in North Carolina.  It has added significantly to its program offerings, moving from a baccalaureate program to a master’s program in 2002.  The division is currently preparing to admit its first doctoral program students in 2013.
The WSSU program is well known for its excellence in nursing education; its multiple pathways to a baccalaureate degree in nursing, offering unique opportunities to paramedics and licensed practical nurses; its focus on health disparities and the preparation of nurses to practice in rural and medically underserved areas; and the creation of educational and practice opportunities for nurses interested in becoming nurse educators.
Faculty and students are committed to serving the Winston-Salem community, having established Wellness Centers in public housing communities, created a grandparenting program to serve families headed by grandparents, and currently provides service with the Mobile Health Clinic operated by WSSU’s School of Health Sciences. The program has a global outreach, forming partnerships with universities in Africa and  in China. Nursing at WSSU continues to push the boundaries of success by being a widely recognized national and international leader in nursing education.

For more information about the banquet, go to

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Nancy Young                                                  Aaron Singleton
Director                                                          Director
Public and Media Relations                           News and Media Relations
336-750-8764 (office)                                    336-750-3152 (office)
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