October 12, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico College of Nursing (UNM CoN) has selected Pearl Alonzo and Elsie Charlese Spencer as recipients of the 2007 UNM CoN Distinguished Alumni Award.
Alonzo graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from the UNM CoN in 2002, making her the first Ramah Navajo community member to receive a BSN.
The Ramah Navajo community, located in the rural area of western New Mexico, 65 miles southeast of Gallup, has a population of approximately 4,000 Navajo people. Alonzo serves the community as a leader for the Field Health Department, consisting of five community health representatives.
With her team of representatives, she makes home visits to the elderly, disabled and impoverished people of the community. In 2006, Alonzo and her staff drove over 111,000 miles and made more than 6,000 home visits, assisting patients needing specialized assessments, immunizations, medical check-ups, pre and post-natal visits and numerous other types of nursing services.
Spencer received her BSN from the UNM CoN in 1962 and later went on to earn her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) at the University of Mississippi in 1973.
During her career as a nurse, Spencer worked primarily in Africa, providing nursing services to 50-100 outpatients a day in medical clinics throughout Ghana. She also participated in two field clinical trials while in Africa. One trial involved the treatment for leprosy and the other was giving penicillin for yaws, a non-venereal infection. Both resulted in cures.
In addition to her work in Africa, Spencer taught nursing rotations to Native American students for the BIA and was a nurse educator at the University of Albuquerque, the Luna Vocational/Technical School and Highlands University. Since her retirement in 1983, she has written and published her memoirs, a thousand pages in three books.
The UNM CoN is a fully accredited component of the distinguished UNM Health Sciences Center. With over 50 years of service, the UNM CoN constitutes a vital resource for the state of New Mexico by maintaining a full range of superior programs in traditional areas while addressing the special needs of a highly diverse population with thoughtfully designed programs to make nursing education available to everyone in the state.