UVA Holds Event to Honor Women in Spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.
The University of Virginia Health System is honoring Martin Luther King Jr. by highlighting the role women have played in continuing his effort and honoring one of their own for work that embodies King's values.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia Health System is honoring Martin Luther King Jr. by highlighting the role women have played in continuing his effort and honoring one of their own for work that embodies King's values.
The Women in the Movement event is a way for these women to share their experiences about how it felt to be the first black women in nursing at the university.
"Just to become a nurse was a great fulfillment," Mary Gilbert Holmes, who helped pioneer nursing at UVA, said.
The job of a nurse is not easy, but being a black nurse during segregation was even more of a challenge.
"That was my really first job after passing the board and I came to UVA at a time when they had just integrated," Holmes said.
Holmes is a pioneer in the nursing field.
On Friday, January 25, the University of Virginia Health System honored Holmes and other women of color who helped integrate the nursing school.
That includes Bishop Sarah Kelly, who served as the first African-American chaplain resident, and Mavis Claytor who enrolled as the first African-American nursing student.
“It's wonderful and very humbling as well and just to be recognized for contributions to nursing, which has always been my calling," Holmes said.
Along with recognizing nurses, a medical student received the MLK Award.
"When I got the email, I basically cried because it's, you know, we all know who MLK is and the fact that my name could be anywhere associated with an award that has to do with him, it was a great feeling," Franck Azobou, a fourth-year medical student, said.
Azobou says the award makes him feel like we’re moving forward.
"I think it's - I don't believe there's such a thing as we're there, there's no actual set destination, so I think the goal is just to get the next generation further than we've been and just keep going," Azobou said.
Holmes says some of her best advice is to remain humble.
"To take their job seriously and to have a love for people and to realize that you can't become a hero until you are at zero, which means you have to start from the bottom and before you can really reach the pinnacle of what you want to be,” Holmes said.
Holmes says her choice to become a nurse is one of her greatest accomplishments, and she's happy she spent some of her years at UVA.