Oral Histories

Listen to oral history interviews with graduates from Thomas Jefferson University's Sidney Kimmel Medical College, College of Nursing, and College of Life Sciences to learn more about student life at Jefferson. Use the dropdowns to filter by college and decade, and follow the links below to access each interview's audio file and written transcript. You can also view the full collection of oral histories in the Jefferson Digital Commons.

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Dr. Ashby completed her undergraduate studies at Wilson College before attending Jefferson Medical College, where she graduated in 1968. She did both her internship and residency at Bryn Mawr Hospital before accepting an infectious disease fellowship at Lankenau Hospital. Dr. Ashby ... (learn more)

Dr. Czarnecki was both the first woman to matriculate to and the first woman to graduate from Jefferson Medical College. She first learned that Jefferson was accepting women students from a newspaper notice while still at Temple University. After graduating Alpha Omega Alpha she continued ... (learn more)

Dr. D'Amico entered Jefferson Medical College in 1968 after spending three years as a biology major at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. After graduating from Jefferson in 1972 she did her internship and residency at Wilmington General Hospital before going into practice ... (learn more)

Dr. Parry, a Pennsylvania native, graduated from Abington Friends School in 1957. She went on to attend Beaver College (now Arcadia University), where she graduated in 1961 before coming to Jefferson Medical College, becoming a member of the first class to accept women. After graduating ... (learn more)

Patricia Maro DeHart first became interested in nursing in high school when she first volunteered, and later worked, as a nurses' aide in a local nursing home. She decided to attend Jefferson's Diploma Nursing program and graduated in 1977. After starting her career in medical surgery ... (learn more)

Dr. Edelstein is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who works with children, adolescents, and adults. After graduating from Jefferson Medical College in 1965 with the first class of women, she completed her internship at Bryn Mawr and did her residency training in Psychiatry at Hahneman ... (learn more)

Dr. Frank graduated from Bethany College in West Virginia before starting at Jefferson Medical College in 1965. Dr. Frank completed her residency in Ophthalmology in Cleveland and then spent nineteen years on the staff at Case Western Reserve University. From there she went to Kaiser ... (learn more)

Eileen Garrity's first draw to the medical field came through her interest in Christiaan Barnard's work as a cardiac surgeon. After deciding to pursue nursing instead of medicine, Ms. Garrity entered the Jefferson School of Nursing's Diploma program, graduating in 1976. She began her career ... (learn more)

Dr. Greco was a member of the Jefferson team that performed the first successful open-heart surgery in 1953 using the Heart-Lung Machine developed at Jefferson by John H. Gibbon, Jr., M.D. ‘27. During his distinguished career as a Thoracic Surgeon, Dr. Greco was the recipient of numerous ... (learn more)

After originally studying chemical engineering at Penn State, Lois Highsmith decided to instead pursue nursing. At Jefferson she found a passion for community health nursing, specifically related to obstetrics, gynecology, and maternal child health. Ms. Highsmith graduated in 1986 and ... (learn more)

Dr. Izquierdo attended the College of William and Mary for her undergraduate degree and received her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in 1969. She continued her training in Radiology at Temple University and Case Western Reserve University. In the 1970s Dr. Izquierdo moved to ... (learn more)

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Karen Jordan was a member of the civil rights movement in Philadelphia during the 1960s, first becoming involved with the fight to desegregate Girard College. After a semester at Cheyney University Ms. Jordan took time away from school before deciding to ... (learn more)

Dr. Kinsey received her nursing diploma from the Jefferson Hospital School of Nursing in 1963 and later a BS in Education and School Health from Millersville University. She also has a BS in Nursing, Magna Cum Laude, a MS in Nursing in Community Health, and a PhD in Education, all from ... (learn more)

Dr. Libonati wanted to be a physician from an early age, but she knew that she could not afford to attend college right after high school so she decided to attend nursing school with plans to work her way through college and then medical school. After graduating from St. Joseph's Nursing School ... (learn more)

Dr. Long graduated from St. Francis College with a Bachelor's of Science in Biology before entering Jefferson Medical College. Upon her graduation in 1970 she completed an Infectious Disease residency and fellowship at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. She is ... (learn more)

Aileen Ishuin MacMillan did not grow up wanting to be a nurse, but after two years of college in Montclair not knowing what she wanted to do, Ms. MacMillan decided by chance to pursue nursing at Jefferson. After graduating in 1976 from the Diploma program she took a job as a nurse ... (learn more)

Dr. McNicholas graduated from Chestnut Hill College and worked in Radiation Oncology at the Stein Center before coming to Jefferson Medical College in 1969. Dr. McNicholas had a passion for medicine from a young age, in part because her father was a doctor and Jefferson grad. She first ... (learn more)

Dr. Osbakken graduated from the University of Illinois with her undergraduate degree and Master's degree in Physiology before coming to Jefferson to complete a PhD in Physiology. After graduating in 1969 she began teaching at Beaver College (now Arcadia University) and concurrently pursuing ... (learn more)

Colleen Young Elwood discovered her interest in nursing after finishing a Bachelor’s of Science in psychology and starting her career at Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Learning about diabetes and working with diabetics sparked an interest in public and community health so ... (learn more)

Though she originally decided to become an accountant during college, Breanne Ward soon realized she would rather be in a field where she could work more closely with people. She chose nursing because she wanted the opportunity to physically care for others. Ms. Ward was accepted as a ... (learn more)

From a young age Pat Owens had a strong interest in nursing, and as a high school student she was even the President of her school's Future Nurses Club. However, she also really liked home economics so when she went to college she decided to pursue home economics rather than nursing. After ... (learn more)

Vera Paoletti became interested in nursing as a teenager after watching a close family member succumb to leukemia. This experience led her to work as a candy striper at Jefferson Hospital through her high school years and then enroll in the Jefferson Hospital School of Nursing in 1966. Once ... (learn more)

Joan Randolph is a 1956 graduate of the Jefferson School of Nursing's Diploma Program. Though she enjoyed all of her nursing rotations as a student, upon graduation she decided to go into medical-surgical nursing, starting her career at Jefferson Hospital working with, among others, ... (learn more)

Dr. Robinson attended Morgan State University in Baltimore for her undergraduate degree before coming to the University of Pennsylvania for graduate school. However, she soon realized that she was more interested in medicine than bench research so after completing her first year of ... (learn more)

Dr. Russell attended Jefferson Medical College where she graduated top of her class in 1970. In addition to being the first woman to receive the Alumni Prize for highest cumulative GPA, in 1971 she became the first student to serve as a full voting member of the Board of Trustees at Jefferson. ... (learn more)

Dr. Schaal graduated from Jefferson's Nursing Diploma Program in 1963 and received her BSN from Jefferson in 1981. Though she started her career as an operating room nurse she soon discovered an interest in public health. After coming back to Jefferson for her ... (learn more)

Ms. Sonia Schorr Sloan received her Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University in 1949. Upon graduation she went to Jefferson Medical College to pursue a Master of Science degree in Microbiology, where she became the first woman to receive any degree from the University. From ... (learn more)

Grace Spena grew up with an interest in health sciences, first wanting to be a medical technician and later a nurse after attending an open house on nursing at Saint Agnes Hospital, where she volunteered as a teenager. Upon completing her degree in 1971 from the Jefferson Diploma School ... (learn more)

Dr. Stec began her nursing career in 1973 as a graduate of Jefferson's Nursing Diploma School. She would go on to receive her BS in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania, her MSN from Gwynedd Mercy College, and her PhD in Nursing from Widener University. Dr. Stec has spent ... (learn more)

Dr. Stewart spent her career as a surgeon and was in the first class of women who graduated from the Jefferson Medical College. When she started medical school she was married with a newborn baby, and even when her second child was born during her third year, she was only able to take ... (learn more)

Dr. Tenney knew from a very young age she wanted to become a pediatrician and first discovered her love of interacting with patients as a candy striper. After graduating from Wilson College she attended Jefferson Medical College, graduating in 1971. She then completed her fellowship ... (learn more)

Stella Jedrziewski Wawrynovic was born in Osceola Mills, Pennsylvania to Polish immigrants. Her parents championed the importance of education for all of their children, and so when the oldest daughter Stella graduated from high school in 1936 she moved to Philadelphia to pursue a nursing ... (learn more)