Big Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to announce that the Gladys Hurd Banner Memorial Nursing Scholarship has been established by her family to provide financial assistance to aspiring Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) students attending Mountain Empire Community College.
Mrs. Banner was born, raised and educated in Big Stone Gap. Her father’s death during the 1918 flu epidemic brought struggle for her and her small family, yet determination enabled her to graduate from Big Stone Gap High School. She then took the bold step of applying to the Montefiore School of Nursing in New York City, where her application was accepted. She found herself on a train heading to New York with little money, but equipped with strong family encouragement and a strong desire to become a nurse. She graduated from nursing school, passed the nursing board examination, and received her Registered Nurse Certificate, cap and pin just as the great depression started. She was employed as a Registered Nurse at Montefiore Hospital where she remained through the depression years. She returned to Virginia after several years, taking a nursing position in Richmond, and eventually returning to Big Stone Gap where she worked as a nurse with the Department of Public Health.
It became apparent to her that a need existed in southwest Virginia for trained nursing skills and she became an advocate for a local comprehensive nurses training program. With the support and assistance of Dr. J. J. Kelly, Jr. LLD, Superintendent of Wise County Schools, and Dr. Frank E. Handy, M.D., Chairman of the Wise County School Board, an LPN program was established in 1958 at the Wise County Technical/Vocational School with Mrs. Banner as Director. This quality program became a regional draw. Wise County high school students and women of all ages from the surrounding area of Virginia and eastern Kentucky enrolled in the program. Successful completion of the program enabled those students to receive their clinical instruction at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond or at St. Mary’s Hospital in Norton and to become Licensed Practical Nurses.
Mrs. Banner took pride in the successes of all her students. Many of those students continued their education and became registered nurses, and several earned graduate degrees in nursing.
For more information about this scholarship, or for information about creating a scholarship with the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation, contact the MECC Foundation office at 276.523.7466.