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School of Health Sciences honors Healthcare Legends of East Winston

Group photo of honorees and speaker at the Healthcare Legends of East Winston event
From left: Dr. Betty Alexander; Willie Kennedy, who accepted on behalf of her husband, Dr. Charlie Kennedy; Lenner P. Jeffries '59; Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson; SOHS Dean Peggy Valentine; Gwendolyn Andrews; Dr. Sadie Webster; Angela Oliver Battle, accepting for her father, Dr. Raymond Oliver; and Dr. Cifton J. Kenon, president of the WSSU Nurse Alumni Organization.

Winston-Salem State University's School of Health Sciences (SOHS) honored six individuals who have made a positive impact on the health and wellness of the residents of East Winston during the Second annual Healthcare Legends of East Winston event on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

“We are pleased again to recognize legends who made healthcare possible at a time in our history when African American residents had very limited access to quality services,” said Dr. Peggy Valentine, SOHS dean. “Through this annual event, our hope is to instill a sense of pride in the community surrounding WSSU and to shine a light on the early efforts and groundbreaking work to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.” 

Honorees are:

  • Dr. Betty Alexander, founder of WSSU’s Clinical Laboratory Sciences program who also chaired curriculum development for the occupational therapy and physical therapy programs. As director of Health Careers Opportunity Program from 1986-2006, she recruited thousands of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Gwendolyn Andrews, the first African American and first nurse to serve on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Forsyth County. Andrews, a nurse for 40 years, also was the first instructor for the nursing school at what was then Winston-Salem Teachers College in 1953.
  • Dr. Rufus S. Hairston, the first African-American pharmacist in Winston-Salem. He owned and operated his own drugstore for more than 40 years, starting in 1919. Hairston, who attended WSSU when it was Slater Industrial Academy, also taught pharmacology to WSSU’s first nursing class of 1957. From their estate, Hairston and his wife, Mary, also an alumna, donated approximately $1.3 million to WSSU.
  • Dr. Charlie L. Kennedy, known as one of the most preeminent African American pediatricians in Winston-Salem. For half of his 40-year career, he served as the only African American chief of pediatrics at Forsyth Medical Center. He also served as local chairman of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), hosting annually The Kennedy Evening of Elegance, which raised $2 million.
  • Dr. Raymond Oliver, who served the East Winston community as a dentist for 42 years. During his career, he mentored young dentists in his office and assisted them in establishing their own practices.
  • Dr. Sadie Brown Webster ‘57, served director of nursing at WSSU for 30 years and a member of the university’s first nursing class. Webster has served on numerous boards and organizations, including the National Women of Achievement, American Nurses Association and the National League of Nursing. In 2004, The Sadie B. Webster Leadership Award was established in her honor by the Rho Lambda Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society, Division of Nursing. The Sadie B. Webster Archival Center, on the second floor F.L. Atkins, is named in her honor.

The luncheon also included the first of a series of interactive conversations with early School of Health Sciences alumni and faculty. Participants this year were: honorees Andrews and Webster, and Lenner P. Jeffries, a 1959 nursing graduate.

The presenting sponsor for the luncheon was Northwest Area Health Education Center with sponsorship by the WSSU National Nurses Alumni Association. 

This was one of a series of events hosted by SOHS for WSSU’s Homecoming. Earlier in the week, WSSU partnered with AARP North Carolina to present a free community screening of the PBS documentary “The Power to Heal,” which focuses on how Medicare and the Civil Rights Movement worked together to change America. Following the screening, part of a statewide tour, local panelists focused on health disparities today.

WSSU's School of Health Sciences, an ethnically diverse school that embraces health equity in education, research and service. For more information, please visit the SOHS website.

A bold past. A brilliant future.
For 126 years, Winston-Salem State University has fostered the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn. Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.

Chancellor Robinson places medallion around neck of honoree

Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson recognizes Gwendolyn Andrews with a medallion as a 2018 honoree of the Healthcare Legends of East Winston on Oct. 17.

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