by Taylor Frey
Sometimes the smell of coffee brings Our Lady of the Lake alumnus, Ellen Campbell, class of 1966, back to the days of nursing school. “We had the best dorm situation. We had big old rooms; they were old fashion in a way, but we just had fun,” she said. “We lived so close to the old Community Coffee plant that every morning when they were burning the coffee beans, we could smell the coffee roasting.”
She, along with her two nursing school classmates Denise Brown, class of 1964, and Katherine Denham, class of 1966, reunited at the 9th Annual Our Lady of the Lake luncheon at L’Auberge Casino in Baton Rouge. There, they reminisced about their nursing school days. “These people, (referring to Denham and Campbell) were behind me; I was a senior,” Brown said. “It was their first time living away from home, and some people were very homesick. I love people, so I used to go see about them.” Evidence of a true nurse’s heart — but a good soul without a good skill is not a good nurse at all.
Brown says the education she received at Our Lady of the Lake is what made her into the nurse she was. “We had a reputation,” she proudly said. “The whole state of Louisiana and Texas knew we were the best nurses ever to come out of nursing school.” Her comrades nodded their heads in agreement. Denham enthusiastically proclaimed that it was because of the hands-on clinical experience they received. “We gave each other shots to practice! It was not just on an orange!” Denham said. They went even deeper into their memories together, recalling one time when a classmate named Lucy swallowed a Levin tube – all three of them laughed at the thought.
When asked if they enjoyed their career after graduation, Brown became very serious. “Let me tell you something,” she said. “When we nursed, that was the best kind of nurses you had. We touched the patients. We worked in the best medicine they had.” Brown, Denham and Campbell all agree — Our Lady of the Lake nursing school was the best choice to become the kind of nurse they each wanted to be.
The Our Lady of the Lake luncheon is an annual event to raise scholarship support for students attending Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University, formally known as Our Lady of the Lake College. “We love to keep them (alumni) engaged, we love to see them again, we love to tell them what we have going on,” said Aimee Green, OLOL director of advancement services and donor relations. “We hope they had a positive experience when they went here, and we hope that continues for them.”