CARTHAGE, Mo. —
This will be a busy week for Leslie Nivens.
She turns 84 today and plans to spend much of the day playing cards with her friends. And on Friday, the retired registered nurse will graduate from Cox College in Springfield with a bachelor of science degree in nursing, capping decades of scattered academic work and a 50-year career in the field.
She is both excited and proud of that accomplishment, she said Tuesday at her Carthage home.
“I’m a little bit of all of it, of course,” she said.
Nivens, who said she had never envisioned herself as a nurse when she was young, enrolled in nursing training somewhat by accident, she said. In 1951, during a fight with her fiance about whether to go through with the wedding, he asked her what she would do if they did not marry, she recalled. She told him she would get training in nursing, figuring that he would try to talk her out of it. To her surprise, he didn’t.
“So I shifted the old Model A into gear and drove off,” Nivens said. “I drove into Springfield two days later and asked about a class.”
Nivens enrolled in the Burge School of Nursing and graduated three years later. She worked for decades at what is now the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mount Vernon, spending most of her nursing career with state-run organizations.
Nivens, who calls herself a lifelong learner, got bitten by the education bug in the 1970s after attending training courses through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She realized that much had changed since she had entered the nursing field.
She told her supervisor she wanted more education, and over the following three decades, she took classes as time allowed.
“I just picked up a couple here and a couple there,” she said.
Nivens returned to school last year after touring Cox College, where she met with President Anne Brett and mentioned that she would like to finally complete her bachelor’s degree.
“I offered her an honorary degree, and she said ‘no,’ she definitely wanted to earn it,” Brett said by telephone Tuesday.
Brett looked at Nivens’ transcript, compared it with Cox’s curriculum and determined that she needed only a handful of courses to complete the degree. She set up the courses online, adapting their content to fit Nivens’ needs and interests as a student who was retired from nursing and would likely not return to the field.
“To do the same curriculum as a new graduate who is going into practice just didn’t seem to be a good fit,” Brett said. “I taught the courses that she had to take, and I customized the curriculum to meet the objectives and make it something that was meaningful to her.”
Brett said Nivens was eager to learn, acing her courses and giving her all for each paper she wrote or issue she researched.
“She definitely didn’t get off easy,” Brett said. “She worked hard and excelled at every single course. She went above and beyond for absolutely every assignment.”
Nivens said she would encourage her fellow graduates to pursue learning throughout their lives, as she has tried to do.
“We have come to a point, and that’s all in the world we have here today,” she said. “We are not finished with our education. I hope they will plan on continuing to improve their minds and learn things.”
A FRAMED PLAQUE hanging in Leslie Nivens’ living room in Carthage honors her for 50 years of service to the state of Missouri via her work as a nurse.
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
This will be a busy week for Leslie Nivens.
- Local News
MSSU board meets today in open session
The Board of Governors executive committee at Missouri Southern State University will meet at 2:30 p.m. today.
Missouri man accused of exploiting teen in Georgia
A Vernon County man is being held on charges that he talked a 16-year-old girl from Georgia into sending him pornographic images of herself and solicited men to have sex with her. Curt L. Bowman, 42, was arrested Friday at his home near Nevada based on information developed by investigators with the Cobb County Police Department in the Atlanta area.
Joplin assistant superintendent position to go unfilled
The recently vacated assistant superintendent position with the Joplin School District will not be filled. That decision is natural now that the district is returning to a more normal operating state nearly three years after the May 2011 tornado damaged or destroyed 10 of its buildings, Superintendent C.J. Huff told the Globe when asked for an update on the vacancy.
Former agency employee pleads guilty in tornado fraud case
A former employee of the Economic Security Corp. in Joplin pleaded guilty Monday to defrauding a disaster relief program that assisted victims of the 2011 tornado. Herlana L. Latham, 32, a former resident of Joplin now living in Memphis, Tenn., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Springfield to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
Long, cold winter could prompt more disconnects this spring
Vett Spain, of Joplin, uses both electricity and natural gas to heat her home during the winter. During extremely cold winter months — and this winter has been among the coldest for the area — it can cost her almost $500 a month to heat her home.
Mike Pound: Watoto Church brings mission, music to area
What began as a small mission church in Uganda has become home to thousands of children orphaned and women widowed by years of conflict in the African nation. Watoto Church was founded in 1980 in Uganda by Gary and Marilyn Skinner.
New library to be built separate from movie theater
The new Joplin Public Library will be constructed separately from a new movie theater at 20th Street and Connecticut Avenue, the Joplin City Council was told Monday night. Plans had called for the movie theater to be built as a second-floor addition to the library, but interim City Manager Sam Anselm made the announcement of the change at a special meeting of the council.
Carthage board member arrested on DWI charge
Mark Westhoff, a member of the Carthage School Board, was arrested early Sunday in Newton County on a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Westhoff, 56, of Carthage, also has been charged with failing to yield to an emergency vehicle displaying red lights and siren, and failing to drive on the right half of the roadway.
Joplin Memorial Run to hold new event
A new event, the “Walk of Silence,” will be held this year in conjunction with the Joplin Memorial Run. Run organizers also will give out newly designed medals and T-shirts, announced Audie Dennis, chairman of Active Lifestyle Events Inc., the organization that annually stages what has become a run to remember the 161 people who died as a result of the 2011 tornado and to help rebuild Joplin.
Carl Junction Chamber to manage annual bluegrass festival
After 17 years, Carl Junction’s annual bluegrass festival is changing.
- More Local News Headlines
- MSSU board meets today in open session