Susan Biasella: The Story Behind the Uniform Text Transcript

Susan Biasella, '71, tells the story behind the original Kent State nursing uniform.

Susan Biasella: I have to…I will be honest with you. We were so proud to have the uniform, and we had to create it.

So, here’s what we did: there was a committee of us, and there were 63 I think in my class, and there should be a picture somewhere on a wall way down there of our class. And there were certain of us that were more active than others, so there was a group of us, I don’t remember who, but we gathered around the dean’s conference table in this one room below Satterfield Hall, and we looked at the St. Luke’s uniform and the Mt. Siani uniform and we took pieces from both, and that’s how we created that uniform.

And at that time, in order to do public health, which was a big deal, cause you had to have a Bachelor’s degree to be a public health nurse, so we had to have a navy blue uniform for public health, but in the hospital, you had to have white. So, then we made the white apron and it had these little buttons at the top and buttons at the sides, and that’s how you took it on and off. So, we were proud to have the uniform, but it was hard to wear because you had to put the dress on first, then you had to button the apron over it, and if the buttons broke, or if God forbid you gain weight, suddenly it doesn’t fit anymore, then you had to buy new uniforms. So that was an expense to buy your uniform.

There was a big argument, though…you probably want to know about. First of all, we created the cap by taking the front piece from one of the hospitals, and see these folds? That was from the other hospital. And I think this part is from St. Lukes and the folds are from Mt. Siani. So, we took both schools and put this together to make this cap.

The story behind the cap, though is, at the time I was applying to nursing schools the big thing was you got your cap at school, and then when you were a junior you got one black band on your cap and then when you were a senior you got a second black band, so that they could tell by just looking at you if you were a junior or a senior, because diploma schools were only 3 years long. So, your freshman you wore the white cap, then you had your black band, and some schools I think had it even all of the way around, you will have to check into that history, but we wanted the black band for the junior, black band…

Oh my, Dr. Henderson, she didn’t want us to have a cap! So, we as a committee had to argue with her that in addition to this uniform we wanted caps because caps meant we were a nurse. But then she refused to let us have the black bands for junior/senior, so we compromised and said, “OK, we will go without the black bands for junior and senior, but we want our caps.” And I think we probably had some kind of capping ceremony, where you received your cap, but that I have nothing in writing from it.

Corey Moore: Do you remember why she didn’t want you to have a cap?

Biasella: Oh, because that was not the future of nursing. Because in the future, the caps were going to go away, and she knew that, but see we didn’t know that, we were high school seniors, you know, who had now become college freshman, so we didn’t know that.

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