“St. Jude was the reason I was able to start the following New Year off as a survivor. Through my mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, they held my hand and guided me through every step.”
A mother’s words manifest as a gift for nursing
Lennette Schnur is making an indelible mark on St. Jude that will impact future generations of nurses. And it started with six sternly spoken words from her mother.
Lennette had her speech to her parents all prepared. An ambitious 17-year-old, eager to start “making it on her own” in 1966—she would share her plans to pursue a two-year nursing degree and enter the workforce as soon as possible.
“No sooner had I gotten the words out of my mouth when my mother replied, ‘Then you will choose another career,’ ” recalls Lennette.
Lennette was stunned. With all but one woman in her family going back one generation having become nurses, she assumed she would have her mother’s support. But while LuElla Schnur respected her daughter’s decision to become a nurse, she knew a higher education would be necessary to thrive in the rapidly evolving field.
“She then encouraged me by relating what she felt were the benefits of a four-year nursing degree,” Lennette says.
Heeding her mother’s advice, Lennette went on to earn her bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from Pacific Lutheran University in Washington in 1972. What followed was a fulfilling 38-year career in both pediatric nursing at CHOC and public health nursing for Orange County.
To ensure her education and training would be utilized after retirement, Lennette began volunteering at St. Jude Medical Center in 2011, supporting patients in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU).
As she witnessed the increasingly complex roles that nurses around her were taking—sometimes performing procedures once done exclusively by physicians—she realized her mother’s advice still held true today.
“My mother was a visionary, and I followed her advice for which I have never been sorry,” says Lennette. “I wanted to continue her legacy and make higher education for all nurses a reality.”
Through a remarkable act of generosity, Lennette is making an estate gift to establish the Lennette and LuElla Schnur Endowed Fund for Nursing. With a goal to break down financial barriers for nurses wishing to pursue further education or certification, the fund will provide support in perpetuity for tuition assistance, research, training and technology, and participation in industry conferences and symposiums.
“I hold a strong belief that in this day and age, with the direction that health care is turning, nurses are—and will remain—key players to the success of the future care of their patients,” say Lennette.
The endowed fund will further strengthen St. Jude Medical Center’s distinguished reputation for nursing excellence. As a Magnet-recognized hospital—a coveted national honor earned by only 8 percent of U.S. hospitals and which recognizes organizations that demonstrate excellence in nursing practice and exceed national standards and benchmarks—St. Jude’s community of nurses display exceptional innovation and leadership in improving patient outcomes.
“St. Jude offers one of the highest percentages of BSN-trained nurses in the nation, creating a foundation of excellence and clinical skill that benefits our patients every day,” says Laura Ramos, MSN, RN, VP, Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer. “We are grateful for Lennette’s gift because it ensures this foundation of highly-trained nurses continues for generations to come.”
In addition to her legacy gift, Lennette leaves the following advice to today’s nurses. “If you want to pursue a higher degree or additional certification, don’t put it off,” she says. “I never went on to earn a higher degree after my BSN. But by creating this endowed fund for nursing, I hope that nothing will stop our nurses from pursuing their dreams.”
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