First Molloy Nurses

Cupola atop a building on the Molloy University campus

First Molloy Nurses



  • Class of 1960 - The First Molloy Nurses



    The Barbara H. Hagan Center for Nursing was dedicated in the Spring 2016. The College was blessed to have three women in attendance who were members of Molloy’s very first nursing class graduating in 1960. The special attendees were Lorelle Schaeffer, Mary Specht and Mary Zargo. We asked them to share some of their thoughts with us regarding their Molloy experiences and their thoughts regarding the new nursing center. Here is what they had to say:

    Lorelle Schaefer
    “I was the first in my family to go to college, and will forever be grateful for the wonderful education and training I got at Molloy. I am very proud to be a Molloy Nurse, and loved every minute I was there. I was proud to be part of the [dedication] day. The new building is beautiful, needed, and will serve the school for years to come. It has a wonderful environment for the students to learn in. Nurses always need to be versatile, but now they need to have knowledge of specialized equipment. A nurse needs to be first and foremost a comforter to the patient, no matter how high tech the environment.”

    Mary McGunnigle Specht
    Even though it has been MANY years since graduation, my memories of Molloy are still fresh, of good times, and lessons learned there that linger for reference. Memories of “pioneer” activities to form a new college, wonderful classmates that I’m happy to meet again and again, at Molloy or elsewhere, and the early professors who challenged us as we proceeded to our future endeavors. As one of the members of the first nursing class I remember we were to prove that this program would get Middle States Accreditation, and that we would all pass the state boards on the first try. And we did! As new nurses, Mercy Hospital received us cautiously, I’m sure, as did other services, but it all worked out.

    Molloy’s nursing program has a great reputation, and to think that we were part of the beginning of it all. Molloy has come a long way since I started in 1956. Watching the construction of each center on campus is amazing. I loved my journey there.”

    Mary Zargo
    “I am a proud member of the original five. The values and core beliefs of the Dominican Order strengthened my faith and brought me to an understanding of my responsibilities toward my family, friends, companions and others as I practiced my art of nursing. And the everyday living in my world. As a Molloy student nurse, I was educated, not trained. The studies completed by a Molloy student are diverse and inspire a willingness to continue to learn, grow and change as demanded by our profession. The recent graduates would find it hard to believe the nursing world we entered in 1960.

    My career spanned 38 years. Staff nurse to educator and administrator. Thanks to my education I became a critical thinker. I was able to apply the “nursing process” to more than patient care. Assess, plan, execute and evaluate the results – works well in many situations in life. Additionally the English, history, ethics and other classes help me be open to new information and to relate to others as I continue in my life. I am proud to be a Molloy nurse! I thank all the faculty and staff, then and now, for educating for life.”

    (taken from the Molloy Magazine, Winter 2017)

  • The Fab 14 - Class of 1962

    The Fab 14 from the Class of 1962 entered Molloy in 1958 and have a special fondness for their department chairperson, Miss Helen Bradley. For their reunion in 2010 they created a special PowerPoint presentation which can be found here, and as a special gift to the College the class donated a room in the Hagan Center to Miss Helen Bradley and has begun a scholarship in her memory.
    fab-14-room_plaque_crop.jpg  fab-14-miss_bradley.png  fab_14_at_dedication.jpg

    The following are reflections from the class of their Molloy days and in particular their thoughts on their beloved Miss Bradley.

    Rachel Condon Bruce
    “I’ve always thought of our Fab 14 as pioneers in the realm of the BSN Program. There weren’t too many of them around in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Most pursued a nursing career by attending the two or three year Hospital Programs. As “pioneers" I think our group felt an obligation to do well.

    I remember being told that as new graduates we would have the knowledge to be good nurses but that we still lacked the extensive clinical experiences afforded those from the Hospital Programs, so now it was up to us to gain that experience on our own. We were advised that because of our degrees we might be offered supervisory positions right off, but we should decline them until we had more practical experience under our belts. I’d say the diversity of the careers of out Fab 14 and our many, many successes show that advice was followed. Our group has done well! And, I just know Ms. Bradley is looking down at us with pride.”

    Marie Fasano '61
    Miss Helen Bradley knew the value of developing inquiring minds. We honor her legacy because her insight prepared nurses for the future.

    While a student at Molloy, there were many challenges. It prepared me for my future: especially as a pilot, flying to medical clinics in Baja California with the Flying Samaritans to care for the indigent folks, flying patients with Angel Flight from rural areas to treatment in cities and flying all over California and Arizona to assist folks with long term care insurance issues. The instructors' encouragement helped me to further my education with Master's degrees in Nursing and Psychology. The instructors taught me that service is important. I tried to instill those ideals in my students as a nursing instructor and continue to serve as a volunteer with Payson Christian Clinic and the Merritt Center - Returning Combat Veterans Program. I still fondly remember each nursing instructor at Molloy and what they gave to me.

    I think we all have remarkable accomplishments. Why not? The Fab 14 are remarkable women!!!

    Lyn Reynolds
    When I did my search of all the colleges and universities that had nursing programs in the 1930's and 40's to try to find a record of her academic achievement, I searched under the name Helen Bradley. No record at any of them. Then when we got together in October, I think it was Anne who mentioned that her real name was Mary Helen Bradley. Who knew?

    Patricia Landi Linekin
    Our Fab 14 is so committed to having Helen Bradley remembered as starting the innovative nursing program at Molloy. The structure of our program was the fruition of her life's dream. We nursing students and our parents fought hard to prevent the elimination of the nursing program, but the registrar at the time was determined to eliminate the program which, I am sure, broke Miss Bradley's heart.

    Miss Bradley, as we called her, insisted that we understand the principles behind each nursing action that we took.

    In our clinical experiences at Mercy Hospital, we followed our patients from admission to discharge so we would get a truly holistic experience in the optimal nursing role in the continuum of changing needs of each individual as well as their family's concerns.

    In regard to her emphasis of infection control measures, her admonition that "you cannot sterilize dirt" was never forgotten. Instruments, etc must be thoroughly cleaned before being sterilized. I am sure that is one reason that my interest in infection control has led me to now teach an 8 hour course for nurses on antimicrobial resistance.

    Another important part of our nursing education was making certain that we were competent in including nutritional counseling by us as nurses in the management plan of our patients. I am always saddened by RN's today who refer their patients to dietitians instead of feeling empowered themselves to address the nutritional management care and education of their patients. It is, after all, part of the scope of nursing practice.

    Joan Macek Thackaberry
    Memories of Molloy Nursing:
    • Starching and ironing our uniforms, rose pink and white stripes, and those collars and cuffs!!!
    • Learning how to sit gracefully by folding the apron into three tiers, first the left edge, then the right smoothing it onto your lap.
    • Locating the other white stocking - this was WAY before pantihose, guys.
    • Taking ballet lessons and reviewing our OB classes at the same time - our teacher was very very pregnant!
    • Struggling to keep our caps pinned in place while maneuvering around the patients' IVs.
    • Holding each other up when we viewed our first autopsy... it would be so embarrassing to faint.
    • Planning a skit to compete in the SNANYS fun competition with our sister schools.
    • Getting over the "first time" jitters….for every new procedure.
    • Miss Bradley's admonition to keep busy while on the unit, rise when a doctor arrives at the nurses' desk, and to chart everything the patient does.

    Valerie Lawler Di Palma
    Miss Helen Bradley was a nurse extraordinaire, as well as the savvy architect and coordinator of Molloy's baccalaureate nursing program. She had a contagious joie de vivre, born of a deep spirituality and love of her profession. I consider her the portal to my transition from a shy adolescent to a competent, caring and compassionate human being. I could venture out beyond social mores to basic physical care for a patient and always return, like a toddler to its mother, for comfort and refueling. Not to mention gentle correction as needed. We were exquisitely nurtured in the art, science and culture of nursing. She recognized the hospital as a " great socioeconomic equalizer ", wherein the affluent and the marginalized should be treated with equal caring and respect. The patient always came first, regardless of our own personal needs.

    The personhood of Helen Bradley as teacher, counselor and friend, is embedded in the collective psyche of fourteen privileged women, thus passing exponentially to a new generation of nurses in the course of their careers. A beautiful legacy born of one principled life. Thank you from all of us, Miss Bradley.

    Personal impression: Miss Bradley was the reincarnation of Florence Nightingale in affect and persona. Her life seemed to be completely dedicated to caring for student nurses. She was both vibrant and kind. yet.........practical in her dedication.. Her tenets were ageless, and ring true today. She was our mother.
    She stated:
    1. No goal is impossible with your Molloy education plus two years of bedside nursing.
    2. Focus on the patient, become immersed in her issues, and your own fears will dissolve.
    3. The ethical decision is the only decision. You can't board a bus and leave your personal philosophy at the curb.

    Pat Mostyn Aker
    Miss Bradley presented herself as a competent caring professional.

    She had a very interesting method of teaching fundamentals, I remember it was somewhat conversational almost informal, very interesting and non-threatening, which I found made me eager to learn all I could about the fundamentals of nursing.

    I remember how surprised she was that we wanted a capping ceremony. She thought BSN students would want to move beyond Diploma School traditions.

    She was gentle and kind and had high standards and expectations of her students. She sternly told me my chronic (several minute lateness) to the clinical area was rude and inconsiderate. I hope I was cured. She was the kind of person I admired and wanted to live up to her expectations.

    When she recognized a strength, she told you. I'll never forget, after the SNANY's state convention in which Molloy was the Communications Committee, putting out the daily Newsletter, she told me my skills as a Committee Chairperson would be very useful in my career. Was she ever correct.

    I think I mentioned, I had the rare opportunity along with Pat Stalkus Brady to spend the summer at a Sioux Mission in Rapid City South Dakota with Miss Bradley. It was an opportunity to see her among colleagues in a relaxed environment.

    The news of our program closing must have been a great disappointment to her but she remained professional. I remember when I approached her about getting administration, faculty, parents and students together to save our program, she didn't encourage or discourage us.

    She was a wonderful role model.

    Josephine Valyo Schultz
    I remember as a high school student looking forward to becoming a Registered Nurse. As I examined different programs, it became apparent that I could study nursing and have the “collegiate experience” at the same time. We (my family and I) decided on Molloy Catholic College for Women. Little did I realize that this decision would put me on the ground floor of a nursing education explosion: the Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing (BSN). It was exciting to learn from a staff of dedicated nurses whose passion was to elevate the education and role of the RN to be a true partner in providing health care, while delivering this care with a precise skill set, respect and compassion.

    My decision was met by some with concerns; mainly that there would not be enough clinical experience to become truly competent. I brought these concerns to the founder of Molloy’s nursing program, Helen Bradley. She explained that nursing had to look to the future and it was important to learn the principles behind our care and the possible ramifications going forward as well as the basic procedures. How right she was! I often wonder how those skeptics feel today when practically every hospital requires a BSN.

    I’m sure Miss Bradley would be proud of what she started. I’m honored to have been a “pioneer”.

Office of Development & Alumni Relations

Angela M. Zimmerman, M.P.A.

Director of Development & Alumni Relations