Frontier Nursing University recently announced its annual award recipients. These awards are presented to FNU alumni and others who have made significant contributions to their communities or to the university.
The Lifetime Service Award recognizes an individual or organization providing longstanding support and commitment to the mission and work of Frontier Nursing Service and Frontier Nursing University.
Peter Coffin, of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, was awarded FNU’s Lifetime Service Award. This award recognizes an individual or organization providing long-standing support and commitment to the mission and work of FNU. Coffin is the founder and president at Breckinridge Capital Advisors, a Boston-based fixed income investment manager with over $40 billion in assets under management.
A long-time supporter of Frontier Nursing University, Coffin serves as the Chair of Frontier’s Foundation Board. Breckinridge Capital Advisors also provides funding for FNU’s Courier program.
Sister Christine Schenk, CSJ, CNM, FNP, of Cleveland, Ohio, was awarded the Distinguished Service to Society Award. This award honors a graduate who goes above and beyond to provide exceptional service in their communities.
Sister Christine Schenk CSJ attended the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing (now known as Frontier Nursing University) in preparation to take the National Midwifery examination. She graduated in 1976 as a family nurse-midwife, having completed the course and clinical work to be a family nurse practitioner as well as a nurse-midwife. She was part of the first group to take the national certification exams ever offered to become a nurse practitioner.
Sister Christine has been interviewed by major media outlets including the PBS NewsHour, World News with Diane Sawyer, CBS Sunday Morning, National Public Radio, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox cable channels, and quoted in major feature stories on Mary of Magdala and women in the Bible by both Time and Newsweek.
Dr. Rhoda Ojwang, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, of San Diego, was awarded the Distinguished Service to Society Award. This award honors a graduate who goes above and beyond to provide exceptional service in their communities.
Dr. Ojwang is the president and founder of Healthcare Access International Group (HAIG), a non-profit organization in San Diego dedicated to making healthcare accessible worldwide. Dr. Ojwang earned her DNP from FNU in 2016.
“I decided to start HAIG because I am originally from Kenya,” Ojwang said. “Growing up I was privileged to be brought up in a family where I went to the best schools and received top quality health care services when I was ill. Throughout my nursing career here in the United States, I constantly thought of ways to give back to my own people, particularly those who were not as privileged as I was. I had a burning desire to make healthcare accessible to those in need. Lack of access to healthcare and the increasing rate of poverty is a growing global public health problem. Although the same is true for developed nations, the developing nations are in dire need of basic healthcare.”
Susan Nilsen, Ph.D., CNM, of League City, Texas, was presented the Distinguished Service to Alma Mater Award in recognition of her lifelong support of midwifery and Frontier Nursing University. This award honors a graduate who has supported FNU through volunteer efforts and/or donor support.
For 25 years, Dr. Nilsen, who completed her nurse-midwifery education at FNU, served as a Certified Nurse-Midwife at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas. Now retired, Dr. Nilsen also served as the Director of Inpatient Services for UTMB’s Regional Maternal and Child Health Program.
Elsie Maier Wilson, CNM, ARNP, BC, MSN, of Newberry, Florida, was awarded FNU’s Distinguished Service to Alma Mater Award. This award honors a graduate who has supported Frontier through volunteer efforts and/or donor support.
Wilson received her RN from Queens’s Hospital Center in Jamaica, New York in 1956. She worked at the Hyden Hospital in 1962 and then, in 1963, began the nurse-midwifery program at the Frontier Graduate School of Midwifery (now Frontier Nursing University), graduating in July of that same year. She then stayed at Frontier for the next 10 years as a nurse-midwife caring for more than 350 families in the Red Bird District.
She took a leave in 1972 to take a mission trip to Zaire. Wilson earned her master’s degree in nursing from Vanderbilt University before returning to what had become the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing (now Frontier Nursing University). She held the position of Family Nurse Education Coordinator and later became Dean (1977-78). During her time as Dean, she implemented several significant changes, including recruiting Master’s degree faculty. She also helped secure American College of Nurse-Midwives accreditation, federal funding, and contracts with the University of Kentucky and Case Western for students to obtain graduate degrees.
Cathy Cook, DNP, MSN, APRN, CNM, of Galesburg, Illinois, was awarded the Distinguished Service to Alma Mater Award. This award honors a graduate who has supported Frontier through volunteer efforts and/or donor support.
Cook earned her MSN from Case Western Reserve. She earned her CNM from FNU in 1998 and DNP from FNU in 2020. She has worked as a certified nurse-midwife in Galesburg since 2016. She specializes in natural childbirth and provides individualized education and prenatal care to expectant mothers.
Cook also has served as a member of FNU’s Regional Clinical Faculty since 2016. She has a long history of service to others as a caregiver, teacher, and preceptor and has graciously shared her time and expertise as a preceptor to more than 260 students. Preceptors serve as the student’s teacher, supervisor, and evaluator during the clinical practicum.
The Courier Program Unbridled Spirit Award is given annually to a former Courier who has carried the torch of Mary Breckinridge beyond the mountains, perpetuating the mission and spirit of Frontier in their own lives. The criteria for this award include a dedication to serving others; ongoing, longstanding stewardship of Frontier; and demonstration of personal conviction, courage, and a zest for adventure.
Nancy Reinhart, MPH, CNM, a certified nurse-midwife in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was awarded FNU’s Courier Program Unbridled Spirit Award. This award is given annually to a former Courier who has perpetuated the mission and spirit of Frontier in their own lives. The criteria for this award include a dedication to serving others; ongoing, longstanding stewardship of FNU; and demonstration of personal conviction, courage, and a zest for adventure.
After her Courier experience, Reinhart earned a master’s degree in public health and began a job in social justice. Soon thereafter she was contacted by FNU and offered the opportunity to run the Courier program. She became interested in midwifery and began taking classes at FNU while running the Courier program. After graduating, Reinhart joined WellSpan OB/GYN in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as a full-scope nurse-midwife in July 2020. The practice, which consists of four nurse-midwives and four physicians, is the only one in the area that offers 24/7 nurse-midwifery care.
Read our Quarterly Bulletin to learn more about these award recipients and the university’s most recent events and actions, progress toward the mission, and goals for the future.