Class of 1960 Nursing Alumna Shares Memories of Georgetown and Air Force

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April 21, 2020 – In 1956, St. Mary’s Hall opened as the new School of Nursing building on Reservoir Road. The same year, Carol Holland (BSN’60) arrived at Georgetown to begin her undergraduate studies.

“St. Mary’s Hall was brand new,” Holland, a retired colonel in the United States Air Force, recently recalled. “Occupants were all women. A few female SFS students shared the St. Mary’s dorm with the nursing students.”

Carol Holland pets Jack the Bulldog next to Healy Hall
During one of her visits to campus, BSN alumna Carol Holland had a chance to meet Jack the Bulldog.

Students, she said, would meet with visitors in a spacious day room on the first floor near the front entrance of St Mary’s Hall.  At that time, the building housed dorm rooms, offices, classrooms, and the chapel. 

“A dear Jesuit, Father William Schrader, walked from the Main Campus to St Mary’s Hall every day to say Mass,” Holland said, noting that the nursing students’ uniforms were inspected after Mass. Students would then walk to Georgetown’s hospital – either across the parking lot or under it through a tunnel.

Student Life

At night, Sister Angela Maria, SCN, the school’s dean, would enforce a strict policy of lights-out by 10 PM.

She “lived on the second floor and could easily observe if lights were on after the curfew hour,” Holland shared. “Some of us put bedspreads over our windows or studied on the floor of our closets. This proved cumbersome, so we got up very early to study and complete assignments.”

During senior year, Holland lived on a different side of the building that did not face the dean’s room so “‘lights out’ was not an issue.” By then, Sister Kathleen Mary, SCN, had become the school’s dean.

The alumna remembered clinical rotation at Glenn Dale Hospital, a tuberculosis facility in Maryland. 

“At that time, we cared for one patient and were with them when they had surgery,” Holland said. “In most cases, there was a strong bond between student nurse and patient.” Indeed, her living room features a painting of a bullfighter given to her by one patient, a special memento of her nursing student days from more than 60 years ago. 

She also recalled pediatric rotation at D.C. General and a psychiatric rotation at the Seton Institute near Baltimore. “That’s where my interest in psychiatric nursing developed,” said Holland, who practiced in this area early in her career. 

Air Force Career

Two years after her Georgetown graduation, Holland began a long and meaningful career in the Air Force Reserve. “The Air Force has been a big part of my life since 1962,” she said, noting her official retirement came about 30 years later in 1992.

Carol Holland's head shot in her Air Force uniform
Holland in her Air Force portrait

She was originally commissioned in the Air Force Reserve as a second lieutenant and was promoted to colonel in 1985. 

Over the years, she served on active duty at Travis Air Force Base in California and then as a flight nurse (who accumulated more than 3,000 hours in the air), for nearly two decades, in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard in New Jersey, Delaware, and Wyoming. 

Additionally, Holland was an admissions liaison officer for the Air Force Academy and AFROTC, and she served on the Air Force Academy Advisory Panel for many years.

Seventeen years after receiving her BSN, Holland earned her master’s degree in community health nursing from Rutgers University in New Jersey. She worked in this area of nursing for three decades in both New Jersey and Wyoming.

Lifelong Georgetown Connection

Holland has been recognized for her work with awards and honors, including a Chief Flight Nurse Badge, Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, and Admissions Liaison Officer Lifetime Achievement Award. She has devoted many volunteer hours serving on Parish Councils, and as an active member of the Air Force Association and the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club. 

She has also devoted many years of service to Georgetown through the Alumni Admissions Program (AAP), joining the organization in 1981 and serving as the chair for Wyoming since 1986 and on the AAP board since 2002. While on campus for AAP board meetings during the fall semester, she invites students from Wyoming to have lunch with her afterward at Martin’s Tavern on Wisconsin Avenue.

“To me, being a graduate of Georgetown University School of Nursing signifies competence, confidence, and compassion,” she said. “As you know, I worked actively in nursing for 30-plus years. From the beginning, I felt well prepared to practice my profession.” 

Holland expressed gratitude to her parents for the opportunity to become a nurse at Georgetown.

“I have always been extremely grateful to my parents for making it possible for me to attend Georgetown in those days before scholarships,” Holland added. “As the first person in my entire family to earn a college degree, I’m still not sure how they handled the finances. My dad was in the farming business and was certainly not wealthy. I think my aunt and uncle who had no children may have helped. I’ll never know.”