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  Avila Board members help in the classroom    
  Kansas City, MO    
March 4, 2009

Avila University’s Board of Trustees members do more than create policies and crunch budgets; they also give back to the students. Recently, Avila alumni and trustees Anna B. Coles, Ph.D., ’58, and Leona Stoll Robben ’62 shared their career experience with Avila nursing students.

Coles and Robben visited Avila’s campus to speak to senior nursing students during their Professionalism in Nursing: Societal Health and Practice class. Coles shared how she had progressed to a deanship and Robben worked her way to CEO. Both offered advice on interviewing for jobs and the importance of nursing.

“They shared their career histories, including the importance of retirement benefits even at a young age. Students really responded to the pride the trustees expressed about being a nurse—making a difference to the people they cared for at the bedside and making a difference by taking on responsibilities that impacted systems,” said Dean of the School of Nursing Susan Fetsch, Ph.D.  “As students transition into the workforce, these women offered positive role-modeling and encouragement for, as one student identified, a prized profession.”  

Coles, who recently celebrated her 50th class reunion, enlightened students with her experiences of joining the nursing workforce.

“I finished [my degree] and all I could think about was all this money I was going to make – I almost staved to death,” Coles said with a smile. “As a new grad, you should just be glad that you’re working.”

Robben emphasized the importance of role models in a young nurse’s career.
“Find a mentor,” urged Robben. “Look for someone who inspires you.”

The students were motivated by the life and experiences of the two alumni. Fetsch said that she wanted the trustees to have the opportunity to meet her outstanding students, but that she also wanted to awaken students to the realization that they have big careers ahead of them.

“I wanted students to have the opportunity to talk with alums who had challenging careers and who continue to give back to the community where they were educated,” Fetsch said.


Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.