Nursing Bestows Awards


ATLANTA – As part of its annual alumni day, Mercer University’s Georgia Baptist College of Nursing recently announced the recipients of its 2006 alumni awards. Each year, the College recognizes distinguished alumni who have contributed in the areas of mentoring, nursing education, clinical nursing practice, leadership in health care, student leadership development, community health service and health care administration.

The Distinguished Alumna Award is presented annually to a graduate for outstanding achievement and distinction in the profession of nursing. It recognizes excellence in nursing practice, humanitarian contributions and support of the alma mater. This year’s recipient, Merle Willis Griffin, exemplifies all of these characteristics.

Following her graduation from Georgia Baptist School of Nursing in 1957, Griffin received an associate’s degree from DeKalb Community College and a bachelor of science in nursing degree from Medical College of Georgia, cum laude. She has worked as a nurse in private practice and in hospitals such as Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta and Methodist Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

An active member of the College of Nursing’s Alumni Board of Directors, Ms. Griffin currently serves as a volunteer in the new baby nursery at DeKalb Medical Center and is an active member of Clarkston International Bible Church. She also counsels pancreatic cancer patients, having survived the disease herself. One doctor described her as “a person of unquestionable integrity,” “kind,” “thoughtful,” and “generous.”

The College’s other annual award, the Edna Earle Teal Award, is named in honor of a 1908 graduate of Georgia Baptist School of Nursing. Teal was appointed by the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board as the first nurse-missionary to China in 1910, and most of the last year of her 33 years in China was spent as a prisoner of war. Still, Teal managed to minister to the psychological and spiritual needs of thousands of people. This year’s recipient, Sara H. Mitchell, has dedicated her life to educating future nurses at her alma mater.

Mitchell graduated from the University of Alabama–Birmingham’s nurse practitioner program, and earned a bachelor of science in nursing degree from the Medical College of Georgia, a master of nursing degree from Emory University, and a Ph.D. degree from Georgia State University. She is certified as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. In addition to her role as assistant professor at Georgia Baptist, Mitchell is a consultant for the World Health Organization to improve maternal and infant mortality in Uganda and also works as a pediatric nurse practitioner at Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta.

In addition to these two prestigious awards, Georgia Baptist College of Nursing also presented its “Hall of Honor” awards. These include recognitions in the following categories:

Excellence in Mentoring

Helen P. Thompson ’47, Gainesville, Ga.

Patricia Lee Miller ’71, Independence, Mo.

Nursing Education

Dawn McCranie Knight ’85, Eastman, Ga.

Jackie Carter Johnson ’68, Alma, Ga.

Patricia Barfoot Fragala ’68, Stone Mountain, Ga.

Clinical Nursing Practice

Robin E. Braswell ’79, Saint Marys, Ga.

Teresa W. Page ’73, San Antonio, Texas

Myrl Chitwood Mallory ’45, Thomaston, Ga.

Leadership in Health Care

Shelley Costine DiGiacomo ’76, Tampa, Fla.

Excellence in Student Leadership Development

Imogene Kee Rainey ’46, Mauldin, S.C.

Community Health Service

Joy Bernice Ogle Whaley ’56, Dalton, Ga.

Health Care Administration

Julie Wilson Lewis ’85, Lithia Springs, Ga.

About Georgia Baptist College of Nursing and Mercer University:

The founding of Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University in 1902 was born out of a vision to establish a Baptist institution for the training of “Christian nurses” to “heal the needy sick.” More than 100 years later, some 6,000 men and women have graduated from the College of Nursing, now part of one of the largest Baptist universities in the world since its 2001 merger with Mercer. The College requires students to undergo a unique three-year clinical sequence and offers clinical experiences in more than 40 of the Atlanta area’s most recognized health care agencies.

Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; teaching hospitals in Macon and Savannah; an educational partnership with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit