The College of Nursing Centennial has Judy Harman taking a walk down memory lane. A 1972 graduate, Harman entered the OU College of Nursing during a time of transition, a period when the College did not have a dedicated building to house its program.
“At that time, that part of Oklahoma City was not a great place to be hanging around, but we didn’t know anything different. My roommate and best friend from high school, Maribeth Leonard, now Moran -- she’s now an Associate Professor in the OU College of Nursing -- we laugh when thinking about how things used to be. We went to school in some houses, I believe on 13th Street. They were a couple of blocks away from the medical campus. You went to your skills labs in these converted houses and there were no dorms.”
Harman wasn’t your typical nursing student; she opted to be in the Navy’s Nurse Candidate Program and said it was “a great decision.” Harman was a sophomore when she found out about the Navy program at an OU Student Nurses Association meeting, for which she served as president. Representatives from various military branches attended an SNA meeting to discuss nursing services in the military. Harman was sold on the Navy.
“A chief from the Navy came and he wanted to talk to the group about the benefits of joining the Navy as a nurse. The more he talked, the better it sounded,” she said.
Entering the Nurse Candidate Program provided Harman with a monthly stipend as well as full financial support for books and tuition. In return, Harman said she had an active-duty service obligation of three years after graduation.
“To me, I thought I had died and gone to heaven, because now my tuition was paid for, my books were paid for and I was getting paid. I ended up helping my little sister who is two years younger than I am who was in Norman at the time. We still laugh about the fact that the Navy put the two of us through school.”
After graduation, Harman joined the Navy Nurse Corps as an officer, first attending Officer Training School in Newport, R.I., noting that seeing the eastern part of the United States was an “exciting experience for this Oklahoma girl.” Harman then was transferred to San Diego, where she spent the rest of her active-duty Naval career, including, from 1976 to 1980, as an instructor providing basic training for Hospital Corpsmen at the Naval Hospital Corps School. In 1980, she had her first child and then went into the Reserves, where she remained for four years. Harman, who now lives in Washington State, spent the remainder of her career in private practice.
Harman, who comes from a family of nurses, always knew that she would pursue nursing as a career path. And OU helped nourish her interest in the field. Two faculty members stand out in her mind, though: Herbert Nishikawa, one of the first male faculty members whom Harman described as “such a professional and such a taskmaster,” and Evelyn Ramming, “a wonderful professor who expected the best.”
“I just think OU was a great experience for me,” she said, “and I do feel like I was prepared as much as I could be for nursing.”
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