Bethany Freudenthal

Students and community members gathered Saturday at Eastern Oregon University to participate in a health and wellness event, the Rita S. Monahan Wellness Event, in remembrance of an associate professor and to raise money for her scholarship fund.

For nearly two decades, nursing students at Oregon Health Science University located on the Eastern Oregon University campus in La Grande have gathered each spring to remember a beloved professor who lost her battle with colon cancer in 1999.

An expert in the field of adult health and illness, Monahan earned a master of science degree in nursing from Duke University and a doctor of education degree from West Virginia University before moving with her husband to La Grande, where she began teaching at the university in 1986.

School of Nursing Campus Associate Dean Carla Hagen said Monahan could explain a new topic in several different ways so that each of her students understood the material.

The scholarship is funded by donations from local businesses and event registration fees, which are invested. The interest from the investments is used to award scholarships to graduating nursing students who need help paying for their state licensing exam.

“My late wife, who was a professor of nursing here from 1986 to 1999, contracted colon cancer. Toward the end, we were talking about what she wanted, and she said she wanted to set up a fund to help nursing students pay for their licensing exams,” Dr. Greg Monahan, Rita’s husband, said.

Monahan said it’s often difficult for students to come up with the money needed for the exams because by then, they are completely broke.

“If you can’t take the exams, you can’t be a nurse,” Monahan said.

For the complete story, see the May 15 edition of The Observer.