CCAC’s nursing program celebrated 50 years with an anniversary brunch held on the Allegheny Campus.

By Haley McMonagle

Photo: Dr. Stuart Blacklaw, right, commemorates 50 years of CCAC’s nursing program. By Haley McMonagle

The Community of Allegheny County CCAC hosted an anniversary brunch at its Allegheny Campus on Sept. 14 to honor its first nursing graduation class from 1969. The cost of the event was $50 per person, with half of the proceeds going toward a Nursing Alumni Scholarship Fund. The goal was to raise $10,000.

Dr. Stuart Blacklaw, provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs, opened the event. Kathy Mayle, MA, MBA, MNEd, BSN, RN and Dean of Nursing at CCAC then spoke about the CCAC nursing program. Mary Jane Smith, MSN, MA and RN-BC, who was a part of the nursing faculty in 1969, reflected on the changes over the past five decades. The event was closed by nursing faculty, Dr. Rose Ferrara-Love, MSN, RN and CNE.

Rosemary Russell, nursing faculty, describes the CCAC nursing program as, “a way for those who wanted to be nurses but couldn’t afford funding [to] get college credits completed.” She has been teaching at CCAC since 1996.

The menu of the brunch included french toast, quiche, potatoes, mimosas, coffee, tea and juice.

Kathleen Gastan, who was part of the first nursing graduation class in 1969, attended the brunch. She always knew she wanted to go into nursing and said that CCAC gave her an opportunity at an affordable education.

Kathleen Gastan was part of the first nursing graduation class of 1969. “This program meant everything to me,” she said. Photo by Haley McMonagle

Being back on campus, Gastan said she was impressed by the “face-lifting of the buildings.” She reminisced on her nursing graduating class of 24 people. The program gave graduates an opportunity to further their affordable education while still pursuing family and school.

Gastan said she worked in the field for many years and then became a nursing home administrator for 22 years. She described working in the “business-side” of the nursing home but valued her “nursing background” as it gave her an edge in the field.
Graduates at the brunch were honored and received a commemorative gift, and Gastan remembered her time at CCAC fondly:

“This program meant everything to me,” she said.