Nursing faculty members embrace challenge

Nursing faculty members embrace challenge

“I will try”

By Prof. Lorraine Pitcher

At a Norwich University School of Nursing retreat prior to the start of the fall 2013 semester, new Director Dr. Sharon Richie had each faculty member share something about themselves that no one else knew.

I would like to share one story that epitomizes our university motto, “I will try.”

I am thrilled to share an office with fellow faculty member Prof. Andra Perreault. My initial contact with her was through the Norwich University College of Graduate and Continuing Studies’ master of science in nursing program. Over the course of our time studying for master’s degrees in this online program, we discovered we had many connections. The best was that we both live in Vermont and love to run, an activity we started as older adults. Prof. Perrault told me she was training to run her first half marathon. This turned out to be only the tip of the iceberg. Here’s what was below the surface.

Not only did Perrault challenge herself physically to prepare for this race, she organized a team to run in the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth (CHoD) Half Marathon with her. The money raised from that event would support that specialty hospital, which provides care to children from all over New England regardless of their ability to pay. Many Norwich nursing students benefit from having their clinical experiences at this facility.

Perrault also had a personal connection.

The team she was building was to support a close friend’s family whose 3-year-old was seriously ill. Even though the child had already received the utmost in medical care at CHoD, the prognosis was poor and he was not expected to live. Perrault wanted to honor this brave young boy and his family by challenging friends and family to run on his behalf. Her team goals were to have a 15-runner team and raise $3,000.

Through her amazing energy and leadership, the team ended up with more than 100 runners and raised $35,000. It was no surprise her team was identified as the top fundraiser for the event.

This experience demonstrated to me that my colleague and friend not only teaches the principles of serving individuals and communities, she lives them.

Dr. Sharon Richie comments:

As the new director of Norwich University’s School of Nursing’s undergraduate and graduate programs, I was so proud to hear this story about leadership, daring and caring, when Prof. Perrault stepped beyond her comfort level to exemplify our university motto “I will try.”

However, this is not the end of the story. Her great example inspired Prof. Pitcher and me to be the first nurses to join the Norwich University Faculty Platoon to support the rooks during the traditional Dog River Run program. We applied camouflage face cream, donned mud-colored T-shirts, did calisthenics on the field and jogged (to the cadence of rousing Jody Calls) down to the river’s edge.

My asthma prevented me from going farther, but Pitcher and our College of Professional Schools dean, Aron Temkin, completed their maiden roll in the mud and slosh through the river to the finish line.

Pitcher’s list of “I will try” challenges did not stop there. Several weeks later she joined a team of young marathoners to complete a non-stop, two-day run through the New York Mountains. Being assigned a two-hour stint in the middle of the night did not discourage Pitcher, the oldest member of the team. Hearing about her assignment, initially I was concerned for her health and safety but it turned out to be the most “awesome experience” of her life to date.

She described the breathtaking beauty of the country as she ran in the moonlight, listening to the silence and viewing the majesty of the mountains; she literally glows with the memories.

Pitcher hung her marathon medals on her Norwich University graduate school diploma. I believe that those milestone treasures serve as a daily reminder to her and everyone who enters her office of the joy of accomplishment that can await one if they stretch themselves and live our motto, “I will try.”