Beloved SRJC health sciences employee to retire

Mary Kennedy, the skills lab coordinator for SRJCs health sciences department will retire after almost 12 years at the college.
Mary Kennedy, the skills lab coordinator for SRJC’s health sciences department will retire after almost 12 years at the college.
Courtesy Mary Kennedy

During the heavy rains and floods in early 2023, a student living by a river lost all of their school supplies when their car got covered in mud. Mary Kennedy helped the student replace their damaged supplies.

Kennedy’s kindness was no surprise to those who know her.

An employee of Santa Rosa Junior College’s health sciences department, Kennedy has provided an extraordinary amount of kindness and guidance to both students and faculty. She will retire in October after a dozen years at the college.

Before coming to SRJC in 2011 as a skills lab coordinator, Kennedy worked as a registered nurse. At SRJC, she’s in charge of hands-on learning and ordering supplies for use in the skills lab. 

Health science faculty member Natalie Beary referred to her as a ”wealth of knowledge.”

She works closely with all of the program coordinators, most importantly keeping everything organized in the health science department, and coming in before classes to set up for students.

One of the many students who Kennedy affected was Beary herself, who enrolled in the nursing program in August 2011, shortly before Kennedy arrived. “It’s hard to see Mary go because she makes everything run smoothly. She has been extremely helpful and patient with me on how to help students better,” said Beary, who now works full time in SRJC’s nursing program.

“Mary’s nursing knowledge when ordering skills lab supplies and ongoing good relationships with our supply sources have been very valuable to our labs,” said ADN Skills Lab and instructor Stephanie Hutchins, who works with students in their first semester of the nursing program. 

“She keeps faculty aware of fire safety and contributes to maintenance and programming of our myriad of electronic supplies, such as IV pumps, hospital beds, simulation mannikins [and] medication systems. She is an integral part of our team,” Hutchins said.

CNA program coordinator Tiffany Lundqvist called Kennedy the “eyes and ears of the Race building” and cited times when Kennedy made sure everyone was safe and far away from the building during a lockdown or a positive COVID-19 case.

“She is always watching out for us — instructors and students — and in constant communication about the skills lab that all of the programs use for students to practice,” said Lundqvist.

Lundqvist said Kennedy even gave her son surplus dressings while he was recovering from an injury that required plastic surgery and wound dressings. 

Dr. Leslie Crane, a nurse generalist for the health sciences department, called Kennedy the “heart and soul” of the skills lab. “She keeps everything running smoothly, helps the students with their work, and keeps order out of chaos and brings a sense of humor that everyone appreciates,” she said. “She will be missed so much, especially by me.”

Jake Samson, much like Beary, is a nursing program instructor who has known Kennedy since he was a nursing student. “Everywhere you go inside the skills lab, you can feel and see the effort she has put into maintaining it for all of our health science students,” he said.

Nursing program associate instructor Kathy Lane said Kennedy “knows how nursing and other healthcare providers do their jobs.” She explained how this simultaneously made her fellow faculty members’ jobs easier and improved students’ learning experience.

“While we understand that she certainly deserves the freedom of retirement, we will most definitely miss her ability to manage any detail of the lab, to find that piece of equipment, to supply the missing item… in short, to be the person we depend on, day in and day out,” Lane said.

When asked for comment, Kennedy shifted focus from herself to the lab and students by stressing the importance of providing a realistic learning environment in the Health Sciences skills lab. “This is critical for the success of each individual student, the program and the health of the Santa Rosa Community,” she said.

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