Three Generations of Care at Southwestern

Three Generations of Care at Southwestern

Makala James, 2015 grad and freelance writer

Bonnie Moore-Smith

When 14-year-old Bonnie Moore arrived at her new home in Keene, Texas during the 1940s, she spoke no English. In Panama, her mother worked as a midwife. Everything was different in Texas. Even at that young age and in a new country, Bonnie felt determined to become a nurse. Little did she know that her determination would inspire future generations. Now there are three generations of that family to study nursing at Southwestern Adventist University.

Bonnie learned English quickly. The people around her didn’t speak Spanish and to go to school she had to learn the language. It took a very strong work ethic to succeed. Sticking to her dreams, Bonnie enrolled at Southwestern Junior College. She graduated in 1951.

One of Bonnie’s friends and classmates, Laurice Durrant, also studied nursing. Laurice became Dr. Durrant, a long-time nursing professor at Southwestern Adventist University.

While working at an Adventist hospital in Boulder, Colorado, Bonnie met Robert Smith, a patient with tuberculosis. At the time, tuberculosis patients remained in the hospital for many months. Robert spent six months in the hospital with Bonnie as his nurse. They fell in love, married, and raised children together. Robert became a doctor and Bonnie continued nursing at a pediatric office.

nursing, nursing program, alumni


Suzanne Smith-Bowron

Raised by medical professionals, Bonnie and Robert’s children sprouted a natural inclination for medical things. Yet, Suzanne Smith, one of their daughters, didn’t initially pursue a medical career. She tried many different careers, but none of them suited her. At one point, Suzanne nearly gave up on college, then Bonnie encouraged her to try nursing.

“I think my mom always thought that I would become a nurse, because I had that kind of caring personality,” said Suzanne.

So, Suzanne applied for the Southwestern Adventist University nursing program at the very last minute. Dr. Durrant, chair of the nursing department at that time, called Suzanne into her office. 

“Honey,” said Durrant. “You have to understand that we have a waiting list and you may not be able to get in this semester.”

The admissions committee could only accept two more people into the program that year. Durrant looked at Suzanne’s grades and said, “But, if you can do this well in chemistry, then you’ll be fine in nursing.”

At that point, Suzanne almost walked out. She hated chemistry! Less than halfway through the previous semester, Suzanne almost failed chemistry. Her professor, Dr. Barbara Jones, told her to consider dropping the course before it was too late. With determination like her mother’s, Suzanne told Dr. Jones that she didn’t want to drop, she wanted to pass.

“So Dr. Jones tutored me through it,” said Suzanne. “I came out of the class with a really good grade because she took an interest in me.”

The admissions committee accepted Suzanne into the program that year. She flourished under the guidance of caring and Christian teachers. During college, she met Randy Bowron. Suzanne graduated in 1982. She and Bowron married and had two children, Aaron Joseph “AJ”  and Amanda “Mandy”.

“At Southwestern, the instructors taught that you are to be a witness and a missionary, no matter what degree you come out with,” said Suzanne. “I don’t think I would have gone to college anywhere else. It felt like home.”

nursing, nursing program, alumni


Aaron Joseph Bowron

When the kids were young, Suzanne and Randy moved from Texas to Idaho. They built a life there. With plenty of colleges and careers to choose from, they didn’t expect AJ or Mandy to become nurses, let alone to attend Southwestern. Yet both children did just that.

“Even as a kid, medical things always seemed to make sense to me,” said AJ. “Whenever mom was talking medical terms, I understood what those were. So I decided to try nursing, although it wasn’t my first choice.”

AJ attended two different colleges over two different semesters, attempting different types of class work before choosing Southwestern and nursing. Two things he knew for sure: he didn’t want to go to school in a large city and he wanted to make good money. Yet, money wasn’t enough. More importantly, AJ needed to enjoy his work. Thinking of his parent’s time at Southwestern, AJ decided to apply and try for a career in nursing.

“I really liked Southwestern right from the get-go,” said AJ. “It felt like home. As soon as I got on campus it was very welcoming. I just loved the place. Then I got into the nursing program and into my surgery clinicals and realized, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Dr. Durrant still taught at Southwestern at that time and became one of AJ’s favorite instructors. She was very strict, especially concerning timeliness. If a student came to class even one minute late, they would not be allowed in. During one of AJ’s first clinicals, he was given a fifteen minute break. He and a three friends decided to go buy donuts. They left the nursing home and returned with satisfied stomachs about twenty minutes later. As they walked through the door, there stood Dr. Durrant, waiting.

“Where have you been!?” She asked. “You are not to leave!”

Dr. Durrant didn’t kick AJ or his friends out of the clinicals, but they certainly learned a lasting lesson.

“Still to this day, I always arrive 10 minutes early,” said AJ. “I'm never one minute late because of Dr. Durrant. She really helped our work ethic and I’m really glad that she was like that.”

AJ met his wife, Jennifer Miles-Bowron, a communication student, at Southwestern. Graduating in 2007, AJ eagerly began work as a nurse and married a year later. Mandy, his sister, also graduated from the nursing department at Southwestern.

“If I ever have kids I’m definitely going to send them to Southwestern,” said AJ.

Now AJ, Mandy, and Suzanne all work at the same hospital, St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise, Idaho. Suzanne works night shift in the NICU. Mandy and AJ work together on the same floor in the main operating room.

nursing, nursing program, alumni


When Suzanne graduated from Southwestern, they held a capping ceremony for nurses (see photo above). Only a nurse could “cap” the graduating nurse. Bonnie capped her daughter Suzanne. Then, when AJ and Mandy graduated, the department had changed the dedication ceremony to a pinning, since nurses no longer wear the caps. Suzanne had the honor of “pinning” her children before the commencement.

“I am proud to have three generations of nurses and Southwestern graduates in the family,” said Suzanne.”

Thanks to the determination of one woman in the 1940s, generations have lived to become nurses, caring for both the physical and spiritual health of people. That generational impact is lasting, and will continue to positively affect the future.

nursing, nursing program, alumni


You can learn more about the nursing program here!