|Evonne Cummings ’79|
Evonne Cummings will never forget the day she skipped Father Jack Hanna’s Spanish class. Inevitably, she had to face the music when she ran into Fr. Hanna on campus later that day. She never skipped a class again.
Cummings, who graduated from the University of St. Thomas School of Nursing in 1979, recalled the small class sizes and committed instructors at UST created an environment which left no room for wallflowers with lackluster academic performance.
“I was really impressed that I would be in a class where my instructors would actually know my name, and they would know when I wasn’t fulfilling my potential,” Cummings said. “At St. Thomas, there is a greater accountability that you don’t find at other schools.”
Cummings has worked in the nursing field for 30 years, and currently serves as an instructor of nursing at Prairie View A&M University College of Nursing located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
“In my experience, many nurses don’t always see the importance of integrity, ethics, values, morals,” Cummings said. “Those ideals and expectations were understood at St. Thomas, and they were embedded in the curriculum. I think a program that emphasizes those values is needed again.”
Working in nursing education, Cummings has a first-hand experience with the shortage of nurses. She explained that nursing schools are limiting their admissions because there is not enough faculty to teach the next generation of nurses. The nursing faculty shortage exists because baby boomers are retiring, and experienced nurses are taking on other expanded roles in favor of teaching.
“The nursing shortage is the worst it has ever been and it will have a major impact on the health and safety of our citizens,” Cummings said.
“Houston needs the University of St. Thomas School of Nursing to increase the number of nurses, and to produce nurses who have strong, liberal arts backgrounds, critical thinking skills, clinical training as well as values of integrity and ethics and common courtesy and manners,” Cummings said. “UST taught me that it’s not enough to know the scientific rationales, you have to have heart.”