Initial CCC nursing director recognized for implementing program in 1966


By President Dr. Thomas Isekenegbe

Thressa Giampetro was one of the brave pioneers hired when Cumberland County College opened in 1966. The community college concept was brand new, locally and nationally. The college’s initial students and employees dealt with a host of inconveniences. Incomplete science labs, a library located four miles away on Landis Avenue and straight chairs with no desks in the classrooms.

Ms. Giampetro was the first nursing program director, and she literally changed the way nursing was taught. Since everything was new, there were no guidelines for implementing such a program, but Ms. Giampetro started with pride. She insisted that students study hard, stand tall and command respect as nurses.

As director of the college’s new nursing program 44 years ago, Ms. Giampetro opened the door for students to earn an associate’s degree in nursing, which prepares them for a career as a registered nurse. Since she began the program, thousands of students have graduated and gone on to succeed in “make a difference” careers, providing essential services in our community and throughout America.

In recognition of her milestone accomplishments, CCC recently held a ceremony, unveiling a portrait of Thressa Giampetro that is hanging in the modern Paul Navone Healthcare Education Center. At the event, Ms. Giampetro marveled at the cutting-edge laboratories in the center, including a simulated, robotic patient that groans and has a pulse. And there were, of course, inspiring remarks by former students who credited Ms. Giampetro for their success in the health care profession.

Barbara Ann Logan, who is a CCC trustee and distinguished alumna, recalled how Ms. Giampetro was a wonderful role model who was the epitome of the “perfect nurse.” She read a remark that Ms. Giampetro made in 1968: “Stand tall, fear not to question when in doubt; your commitment is a responsible one, yet so privileged.”

CCC nursing professor Katherine Daniels, who was the youngest member of the nursing class in 1966, said she always felt safe at the college, in the midst of a tumultuous world with the Vietnam War and civil rights struggles. “We were learning to be great nurses, and being primed to be leaders like our esteemed and beloved, Thressa Giampetro,” Ms. Daniels said at the ceremony.

This semester, hundreds of students are enrolled in health care programs at CCC in areas such as nursing, biomedical science, health science, psychosocial rehabilitation, radiography and respiratory therapy. They are learning valuable lessons from expert professors in an outstanding facility. This all grew from the initial nursing program at CCC founded by Ms. Giampetro. What a legacy! We are as proud of Ms. Giampetro as she is of her former students.