UM-Flint professor honored for 25 years of international nursing
Written by Fernanda Pires
For the past 25 years, professor Maureen Tippen, has taken more than 250 University of Michigan-Flint nursing students on service-learning journeys to Africa, Asia and Latin America.
From providing clinical trainings in orphanages and educating nurses and lay people about CPR in Cambodia to developing a partnership with a safe house to serve women escaping life in the sex trade and giving instructions on how to prevent Zika virus in the Dominican Republic, Tippen has built international partnerships in Peru, India, Kenya, Laos and elsewhere, always supporting the community’s needs.
Tippen, clinical associate professor emerita of nursing, is this year’s recipient of the U-M’s Presidential Award for Distinguished Service in International Education, established in 2017 to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary efforts of U-M faculty and staff who keep the university on the leading edge of international education.
“Maureen Tippen has devoted her career to UM-Flint’s mission by advancing quality education in nursing and the health of global communities,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel. “She has created sustainable programs around the world that continue to benefit patients and many U-M students who learn tremendously from their international experiences.”
Tippen, who retired in May, started teaching at UM-Flint in 1994, when the nursing program was new. In the following year, after volunteering for a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic, she conceptualized and developed the campus’s first academic international service learning course.
“While I was working on that first medical mission and was new to teaching, I thought, why can’t students be part of this?” she said. “I proposed the idea and with lots of preparation, innovation and risk taking, the International Service Learning in the Dominican Republic was born.”
Later on, she volunteered in Cambodia, made connections and brought the country into the UM-Flint Service Learning trips, taking students there every other year since then. The same happened in the other countries she served.
“Professor Tippen’s long-standing service is an inspiration to our U-M international education community,” said Amy Conger, U-M associate vice provost and director of global engagement. “We are grateful that President Schlissel established this award to honor the important work of our faculty and professional staff who provide important global learning opportunities for our students.”
Also known as “an avid pediatric fan,” Tippen said working with children has always been her passion. “The laughter and play of children is the same everywhere. My clinical experience and education is working with children, so the opportunity to service children globally has enriched my life forever.
“Even in the worst of poverty, children are resilient and adventuresome. We can learn from children if we just talk less and listen more.”
Besides connecting the heart, mind and soul, international service learning courses guarantee the next generation to carry on working with the underserved globally, Tippen said.
“I have always practiced making the classroom alive in academia no matter what I have taught,” she said. “I have seen students transform, make different career choices and return to volunteer work after graduation to make it a lifelong passion. I am witness to this with every trip.”
Margaret Andrews, dean of UM-Flint’s School of Nursing, said Tippen has also been a resource to many faculty in the development of study abroad courses, frequently sharing her expertise about child development, health promotion, research and evidence-based practices across disciplines.
She has planned, implemented and evaluated both nursing and multidisciplinary international service-learning courses with impressive transformational results in students, Andrews said.
“Students frequently tell me how much they learned from Maureen, and they describe the many ways in which the experience transformed their thinking, broadened their world view and increased their cultural awareness, knowledge, skill and desire to learn more about people from diverse cultures and countries,” Andrews said.
Tippen said she is “honored and humbled to receive this award, most importantly because I was nominated by colleagues and had so many people support me. This award makes me feel so fulfilled and happy, especially as I retire. When I sit in my rocking chair in elder years, these memories are what I hope will make a difference in my life.”