Catching Up with HUP Alumni
Last year marked the 135th anniversary of the first graduating class of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Training School for Nurses, the precursor to what is known today as Penn Nursing. Nursing education at Penn has changed tremendously over the years, but one thing has remained the same: the impression HUP’s 5,000-plus graduates have made on nursing.
From Mary J. Burns, the first HUP School of Nursing graduate in 1887—to Minnie Hogan-Clemens, the first African-American to graduate from HUP in 1890—to HUP’20 graduate Theresa Lynch, who founded and served as the first dean of the Penn’s current School of Nursing—to Maurie Glick, the first male nursing student to graduate from HUP in 1972, these trail-blazers have been part of professionalization of nursing. They also have played key roles in public health, impacting health and wellness across a range of spectrums, and in history, creating a path for women who wanted to have careers outside the home, and encouraging men to join the ranks of nurses everywhere.
The HUP Training School for Nurses (“HUP”) closed its doors in 1978—but the community of alumni remains strong and vibrant, their accomplishments as nurses too numerous to recount in full. Their legacy shines brightly at Penn Nursing as examples of what great nurses can do, and many of them continue to impact the world of health and health care.
Here are five of them.
Lori T. Pierangeli, PhD, RN, FCN
Dr. Lori Pierangeli volunteered as a candy striper in a hospital as a girl. Her options for a career at the time were limited—be a nun, a nurse, a secretary, or a teacher—and with seeing the hospital health team in action and having great nurse role models, applying to HUP felt like the obvious choice. She was right: she credits her education and experience at HUP with igniting a lifelong passion for community health in her work at the bedside, in hospice care, as an educator, and beyond—a passion that continues into Pierangeli’s retirement. An exercise to instill empathy in her students at East Stroudsburg University by engaging them in the Point-in-Time (“PIT”) Count, a nationwide count in January of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness, led to a homelessness awareness exercise during which she realized having a bicycle would make it easier for unsheltered persons to locate the resources they need. This resulted in an effort, alongside her husband, Joe (a whiz at fixing bikes) to start rescuing, repairing, and rebuilding used bicycles in their Gouldsboro, PA home and distributing them to local agencies serving homeless populations. They named their endeavor “Pierangeli’s Pedals.” In the past eight years, they have revived 699 bicycles and expanded their distribution beyond the homeless population. “Giving back to my community is important, and it is my time at HUP that really lit a fire in me to work with underserved communities to improve health— and to understand that health includes environmental issues, psycho-social factors, and the way people live.”
Nancy A. Crecco Long, CRNP, RN
Nancy Long came to HUP by accident—she and a friend took a bus into downtown Philly for a shopping trip and got off at the wrong stop: right in front of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She knew as she walked into the hospital that this was the place for her. “It was the best mistake I ever made,” Long says. “Attending HUP was a very special time in my life—many of the things we learned were not from a textbook and were never forgotten.” Long spent the majority of her time as a nurse caring for women, working in a gynecologist’s office, in obstetrics, and teaching childbirth and breastfeeding classes. Despite being immersed in women’s health, Long missed the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer in her own body and was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer in 2004, a diagnosis that changed the trajectory of her career. “My education at HUP and my experience as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner prepared me to deal with a serious illness,” she says, “yet it was still difficult to find someone to talk to who had survived ovarian cancer.” The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) became a useful resource, and when Long discovered a friend also had ovarian cancer, they decided to start a local chapter in Annapolis, MD in 2009. Now retired, she continues her volunteer work with the NOCC, organizing support groups, health fairs, and presentations on ovarian cancer. She has helped to raise $2 million through NOCC’s annual September walk/run since her chapter’s inception. She even mentors patients of her daughter’s, a GYN/Oncologist in New York. “I am grateful for every day,” Long says,“and I am grateful for the opportunity to help women recognize the symptoms of ovarian cancer.”
Julia Tierney Davis, MS, RN, RVT
Julia Tierney Davis has been involved with the HUP Alumni Board since 2003, acting as secretary/treasurer, and helping with alumni reunions and newsletters—her drive to learn the stories of other HUP alums drives her in the latter role. “Everyone has such an incredible background,” she says. “The military nurses, the Deans of nursing schools—our alumni include a lot of amazing people who have made an incredible impact on nursing and health care.” Davis herself is one of those people: she was among the first nurses to ever be trained as a technologist in the then-new field of vascular testing. As a HUP graduate with an interest in surgery, she tried out several nursing positions at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania—med-surg, outpatient surgery, plastic surgery—but in 1979 she was offered a position at the hospital’s first vascular lab. “It was such a new field,” she says. “There were no certified technologists as we have now—they hired a few nurses and trained us how to perform the tests, including ultrasounds.” Davis credits her HUP education and her experience as a nurse with driving her curiosity and, after being named the Manager and Technical Director of the lab, ensuring the lab was a top-notch facility, with well-trained employees and high-quality care for patients. She retired in 2017 from the vascular lab and is enjoying post-career life in Havertown, Pennsylvania, but she didn’t know when she took the job that she would help expand roles for nurses everywhere. However, she says, that’s par for the course with HUP alumni: “When you meet another HUP alum, you immediately have a shared experience—and part of that is knowing you were both part of something special that helped to change the field of nursing.”
Pat Marcozzi, RN
Pat Marcozzi considers herself a facilitator. She likes to be behind the scenes, making things happen. As a nurse, that attitude has helped her be effective for her patients—and it has also made her a great asset on the HUP Alumni Board. In 2015, Marcozzi was awarded the Alumni Spirit Award for outstanding contributions to the achievement of Penn Nursing Alumni goals—primarily for her tireless dedication to organizing HUP Alumni reunions, something she’s been doing for the last 35 years (most recently working with Julia Tierney Davis, also profiled). She is also part of the team responsible for celebrating the 125th School of Nursing anniversary with the installation of the well-known “The History of Nursing as Seen Through the Lens of Art” mural in Fagin Hall. Her career has been one of doing double or triple duty over the years, simultaneously working as the business manager of her husband’s landscaping business and as a nurse, including stints working with an oral surgeon and as head nurse at a convent infirmary, as well as contributing to the HUP Alumni Board. She may have been perpetually busy, but it never lessened her dedication to patient care. She says, “We as nurses have an opportunity to get to know patients and their health needs in a very hands-on way—nurses are so vital to patient care. With the way that we so closely interact with patients, you never know what kind of difference you’ll make in someone’s life… well beyond the length of a hospital stay.” While Marcozzi retired from nursing in 2000, she continues to facilitate and make a difference—not only through the HUP Alumni Board but also with her family and community.
Mary L. Wilby, PhD, MPH, CRNP, ANP-BC, RN
Mary L. Wilby PHD MPH CRNP ANP-BC RN When Dr. Mary Wilby recalls her HUP education, it is inexorably tied to the fact that her class was the last before HUP closed permanently. “There were no underclassmen left to mentor,” she says. “For our faculty, many of whom had graduated from HUP as well, it was a bittersweet time. It was the end of the line—and it made me think about the incredible legacy and history of the training school.” Staying connected to that legacy and history has been important to Wilby, so much so that she is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the HUP Alumni Association for the second time; she also chairs the Social Committee to ensure alumni have events through which to stay in touch. “I am inspired by the incredible things our alumni have accomplished, both the older generation and those of my generation,” she says, “and my career has likely been so varied because their work has been so energizing.” Wilby has worked in med-surg nursing, hematology-oncology, end-of-life care, integrative medicine, and more—and she currently teaches full-time at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA. At the end of this academic year, though, she plans a change— retiring to work part-time and seek new degrees and certifications, and perhaps traveling more for service work. It is primarily her service work for which she was presented a special recognition award at the 135th HUP reunion in 2022; she has long contributed her skills and knowledge to the Lasallian Women of Hope and the ministry in Haiti, an effort that began after the 2010 earthquake to advance education and provide health care, especially to women. “Like so many HUP alumni, I’m passionate about sharing my gifts and talents where they might be needed,” Wilby says, “and you never have to look far to find someone in need.” “This image marks the last day of orientation and the day before my first day on the Hill. The entire cohort gathered together—63 members placed in Black Congressional Member’s office and C-Suite offices. This day marked the beginning of a life-changing experience. It was such an amazing feeling of comradery as we stood together prepared to take up space in an institution tainted with elitism.”