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Release Date: 
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

HFCC Nursing Instructor Receives Women’s Recognition Award

The Henry Ford Community College Nursing Program means a lot to HFCC nursing instructor and Student Nursing Association advisor Susan Shunkwiler - it’s even a part of her family. Not only is she a graduate of the HFCC Nursing program, but her husband and sister-in-law are as well. Her son, David, also will graduate with an associate’s degree from the program in May.

'The nursing program at HFCC is second to none,' says Dearborn resident Shunkwiler. 'HFCC nursing graduates are known in the community as receiving an exceptional education and becoming great nurses.'

It’s her enthusiasm for the nursing program that helped Shunkwiler earn the Women’s Recognition Award at the recently held 35th annual Women’s Recognition Luncheon, sponsored by the Focus on Women (FOW) program at HFCC. The purpose of the Women’s Recognition Award is to honor women who have made an outstanding contribution to the lives of women at HFCC.

'I was so honored and humbled to receive the award,' says Shunkwiler. 'I just feel like I do what I’m supposed to be doing and don’t really except any accolades. It was truly a great day and I am still in shock about receiving the award.'

Shunkwiler was nominated by HFCC nursing instructors Cynthia Roman and Janice Caie-Lawrence. Last year’s recipient was HFCC English Language Institute co-director and instructor Mary Assel.

'Susan Shunkwiler was overwhelmingly nominated by her fellow instructors, which speaks volumes of her dedication to the college, our students and our nursing program,' says HFCC president Gail Mee. 'She is most deserving of the Women’s Recognition Award, and I thank her and wish her the best.

Shunkwiler’s contributions to HFCC’s Nursing Program are extensive. When Shunkwiler took the role of advisor to HFCC’s Student Nurses Association (SNA) during her first year working at the college, the student attendance was minimal at best, with an average of ten nursing students per meeting. Now, after five years of being SNA advisor, Shunkwiler has helped the average attendance go up to 150 students per meeting.

'I wanted to do things to get the students excited about participating in the SNA, like pizza parties or other incentives,' says Shunkwiler.

Her enthusiasm for nursing also extends to the classroom. Shunkwiler is known for having an innovative, exciting approach to teaching. She uses a variety of games, movies, small group discussions and traditional and non-traditional methods to teach her students.

'I love participation from students so I try to use questions and answers, group discussions and activities,' notes Shunkwiler. 'I think one of the main things I do is incorporate funny anecdotes and humor into my lectures to keep the students interested. I also believe in always respecting the students so that they feel safe and secure in class.'

Shunkwiler had dreams of being a teacher since childhood, but ended up going into nursing in college due to the job market at the time. With her passion for both teaching and nursing, she has been able to excel with the students in the Nursing program.

'I love the students in the Nursing program,' notes Shunkwiler. 'I am amazed at the obstacles many students have overcome to get into this program and the perseverance they have to get through this very demanding program. I have very high expectations for the students, but I try to make their experience fun.'

Shunkwiler also gets involved in charities with students in the SNA. Over the years she has helped students organize blood drives, raise $1,600 for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, raise money for a needy student in the Nursing program and collect school supplies for classrooms in the Detroit Public School System.

'I think the amazing thing about the students is that in spite of the fact that they have jobs and families and may be receiving tuition assistance themselves, they are always willing to help those less fortunate,' says Shunkwiler. 'I guess that’s just the nature of the type of students who become a nurse.'

After Hurricane Katrina, during an SNA meeting Shunkwiler passed around a ‘give if you can’ envelope and ended up collecting $250 from her students in 15 minutes.

'Most of the charitable work we do is the students’ ideas, not mine,' says Shunkwiler. 'I am just there to encourage and support the students in their ideas. I try to support them in whatever they do.'

Shunkwiler also was the first instructor to teach at the Henry Ford Hospital Partnership Program with HFCC, the first accelerated nursing education program in Michigan. In addition, Shunkwiler is also the Nursing/Health Careers HFCC Federation of Teachers union representative and has been a member of the Systematic Plan Nursing Committee for the past two years, which took on major responsibilities during HFCC’s National League for Nursing Accreditation visits this fall.

Shunkwiler earned her associate degree in nursing from HFCC and went on to receive her bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from Eastern Michigan University and her master’s of science degree, with a concentration in midwifery, from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

'She is a remarkable woman,' said her nominators Roman and Caie-Lawrence. 'She is phenomenal with her students and admired by them. She is a caring, compassionate nurse who is sensitive but will stand up for an individual’s rights. Also, she is personally responsible for the great success of our SNA. Under her dynamic leadership, this organization has thrived and grown. She is an advisor and mentor. Nursing students thoroughly enjoy her leadership. She is admired by all.'

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