Geneva Core Values: Honor One Another - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

Geneva College Blog

RSS Subscribe Print   

The College
January 15, 2019

Geneva Core Values: Honor One Another

A Christian author once said, “True honor is an outflow from a heart that fears God.”  That explains the honor that flows so easily and richly from Connie Erwin, RN,  BC, who’s been Geneva’s full-time beloved nurse for 28 years (36 if you include her part-time clinical work). She lives out the school’s core value of honoring one another with the belief that it’s a blessing to be able to honor others.

She says, “I take the word honor to be looking at the value, the preciousness of the person in a way that may not be evident at first.”  Her favorite verse is Romans 12:10,  “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

She’s done that for decades at Geneva. As the college nurse, her responsibility is to take care of the body.  That includes wounds, colds, flus, broken bones, infections, chronic health conditions and much, much more. However, she says she never sees the students, treats them and lets them go without finding out more about them. She decided early on to look at each student as the unique, individual person of God that he or she is.

“I would always find out more, ask them what was going on. I would try to remember, or even take notes, and the next time I saw that student I would be able to ask about their situation. ‘Are you doing better with that?’ Or, ‘How’s your mom?’  They knew they mattered to me.  They felt trusted, loved and honored. I was able to speak into someone’s life then. I worked hard at growing that.”

With students, Nurse Connie continues, you can’t look at everything at face value.  What they present may not be what’s really going on.  Sometimes it would take several visits to discern what the real problem was.

She recalls the situation when a particular student was sobbing hysterically and hyperventilating. She told the student she was there to make her day better. How could she help? It ended up being a problem about a grade on a test. Connie talked her through it, prayed with the student and helped prepare her emotionally for the next test.  The student was tremendously grateful to Connie, but Connie shares her own reality:  “I am blessed – and that student, all the students are a blessing.”

And so she stayed at Geneva for much longer than she ever dreamed. Nurse Connie retired from the Geneva infirmary at the end of May 2018.

A mom of two grown daughters and grandmother of six, she’s looking forward to baking cookies and getting the little ones off the bus once in a while. Her own parents are in need of care. She’ll volunteer in hospital ministry and visitation.

Connie and her husband of 40 years, Dave, are going to increase their involvement in disaster relief. Before retirement, they volunteered locally, but now they will be able to travel to disaster sites in their newly purchased truck camper and serve with SMAT (State Medical Assistant Team) or FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

Nurse Connie, as she will ever be known to the Geneva community, will miss Geneva. “This has been a special place to work. I’ve worked at a non-Christian facility, and coming here was a really impactful change. I couldn’t believe how nice and kind the people are. I felt valued and cared about. It wasn’t the traditional work setting I was used to being in, where employees were competitive and not necessarily kind to each other. I’ve had the privilege of working with wonderful, God-fearing people.”

Nurse Connie faced her own health challenge, breast cancer, in 2001.  She had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation beginning on Memorial Day through the fall semester. Within two years, she required more surgery, which she had over Christmas break. Through it all, she never missed a day of work. “Don’t be too impressed,” she says. “I think it was my defense mechanism. If you go to work every day, you’re not that sick.”

Through the experience, she learned what it’s like to accept care from others.  She explains, “It’s hard to be on the receiving end.  A wise person told me, ‘If you don’t let others care for you, you block their blessing. Let them have the blessing you have when you care for others.’”

Has she been honored by others at Geneva? “I don’t make it easy,” she answers. “I don’t like attention. I’ve been well respected and appreciated. Sometimes we get awards in Student Development. I got the Service Award, and the Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development said that from now on it will be called the Connie Erwin Service Award.  That means a lot to me. Most importantly, people have allowed and enabled me to continue to do my job, to honor people – and that means more than anything.”

Nurse Connie says sometimes it seems tough to honor some people.  That’s when she tries to look at them as Jesus would. He saw us all as sinners, loved us, and died for us. Honor one another above yourselves.

-----

This post is part of a series highlighting Geneva College’s Core Values and the people in the Geneva community who bring them to life. It was originally published in the Spring 2018 edition of Geneva Magazine.