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Alice Stephenson

Pride in paying it forward

Several years ago, Alice Stephenson, BS '63, RN, PN, looked back over her career as a nurse and was grateful. She remembers her years in nursing school with pride and always felt good when someone noticed her CU School of Nursing pin.

Colorado native from Steamboat Springs, Stephenson remembers the hardship of paying for nursing school especially in her fourth year. During school breaks she would return to Steamboat to work so she could afford to pay for books and life expenses. As education is increasingly expensive, she is dedicated to lessening the struggle for one student each year. Establishing her Alice Selch Stephenson Nursing Scholarship at the college fulfills a dream of ‘giving back and paying forward’ for the wonderful education she received.

Stephenson worked in Seattle in pediatrics and in medical surgical in Denver before getting married, then at the Visiting Nurse Association for several years before starting a family. "In 1980, I suddenly became a single mom and had to go back to work," she remembers. "Hospitals asked, ‘When did you last work?’ I lucked into a super refresher course and was so glad to have my BSN from the University of Colorado! Many of my friends were having to go back for the degree while doing refresher courses and raising families."

She landed on her feet at a diabetes unit at John Muir Medical Center in California, then remarried and moved to Salt Lake City, where she worked in home health, hospice and diabetes education. Another move took her to Phoenix, Ariz., where Stephenson put together a home health agency for the HMO there.

"Taking care of so many complications of diabetes led me to feel that there was something else that should be done, so I spent the last 7 years of my paid career as a certified diabetes educator in a free-standing facility."

While providing care for her mother, Stephenson became a parish nurse—something she has kept up since. Today she is a diabetes educator, wellness consultant, and parish nurse living in Cornville, Ariz. As a parish nurse consultant at Sedona United Methodist Church, she facilitates a parish/ faith community nurse support group in the Verde Valley. She is also a part of a large active group of retired RNs known as NARNIA (Northern Arizona Retired Nurses in Action) and a PEO chapter that supports education for women.

Stephenson is now completing a biography of her great aunt, who was a world traveler and World War I nurse. She and her husband John enjoy travel, rock hounding, RV camping and other outdoor activities. They have four grown children and five grandchildren. They built their dream house in a high desert area and have now taken on a "new project," a golden retriever puppy.

"My husband established a scholarship at Northern Arizona University School of Forestry, his alma mater, over 10 years ago," she says. "Several years ago, I decided it was time for me to give back too. It took several years to complete the funding, but the first Alice Selch Stephenson Nursing Scholarship was awarded in 2012. This form of paying it forward has been one of our more satisfying legacy projects. We enjoy meeting our recipients and keeping abreast of what is happening in our prospective schools."

Not everyone can afford to endow a scholarship at the college, but every gift counts. To ensure that your gift goes to scholarships at the College of Nursing, write the name of a scholarship fund in the memo line of your check. The three general scholarship funds for the college are the College of Nursing Alumni Association S. Clare Sandekian Scholarship Fund, the Touched by a Nurse Fund, and the College of Nursing Scholarship Fund.​