Paula Larson, Health Center Staff, 1978–2020
When we think of Paula Larson and her legacy at Milton, it is truly difficult to put into words what impact she has had on the Health Center, students, faculty, and staff throughout her career. The words dedication, service, compassion, commitment and leadership come to mind when we think of Paula Larson.
Paula began her career at Milton in September of 1978, leaving her position as a bedside nurse at Carney Hospital to begin her lifelong career in public health. She has seen the exponential growth of the Health Center and school nursing staff from her days attending to sick students in the basement of Ware Hall to the Health Center’s current home in Faulkner. Throughout her career she has seen former students become faculty members or parents of incoming students, and she remembers them all. When greeting a new parent who was a former Milton student, she would often say, “I remember when,” and recall a time they were in the Health Center and the treatment they received for an illness or injury.
Through the years, we have watched Paula care for students as they navigate their way through a new health crisis such as diabetes, cancer, or sickle cell anemia. She accompanies students to medical visits and works tirelessly with stressed students and their parents, instructing, counseling, and helping them in the management of their new illness. If there is a medical issue that arises for a student, you can rest assured that Paula has treated another student with a similar issue, and she will even recall the student’s name and the treatment they received. The idea of a 40-hour work week is lost on her; she simply stays until the work is done, and makes herself available for her staff 24/7.
For the Health Center staff, Paula is seen as a leader, a mentor, and a friend. The personal connections she has made with the Health Center staff will never be forgotten. She has stood by us all, through marriages, births, graduations, and deaths, and we are ever so grateful for her unwavering support. We thank you, Paula, for your years of service, experience, expertise and leadership, and for your commitment to your staff, students, faculty, and parents at Milton. Your daily presence in the Health Center will be missed beyond words, and we wish you all the best in this next chapter.
By Dawn Cruickshank