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Beloved Nursing Professor Bethany Nasser Named Faculty of the Year

Bethany Nasser
Renowned for her heartwarming and resonant wisdom known as “Nasserisms,” Assistant Professor of Nursing Bethany Nasser was named Faculty of the Year, an annual honor voted on by students.
By: Sarah Sweeney

When Bethany Nasser’s name was called at Endicott’s Baccalaureate Ceremony on the Friday before Commencement, students quickly erupted into applause and ecstatic cheers. Just as quick was the standing ovation the audience of students, faculty, staff, and family members offered Nasser as she made her way to the stage.

Nasser, an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the Cummings School of Nursing & Health Sciences, had been named Faculty of the Year, an annual honor voted on by students—and it was clear from the sustained cheers and all-around jubilance that they loved her.

In her speech, Nasser imparted bits of wisdom her nursing students have come to cherish and know well—they formed what the longtime nurse called a “Nasserism.”

“Go on a scavenger hunt of life!” she urged the Class of 2024. “But remember—it’s not about getting to the destination. It’s about enjoying the adventure.”

In a candid chat ranging from Nasserisms to her passion for working with students, we sat down with Nasser just as she was preparing to embark on several adventures of her own, including to Cork, Ireland, where students from the Cummings School of Nursing & Health Sciences will complete nursing practicums at Mercy Hospital over the summer.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Did you know you would win Faculty of the Year? What was your reaction?

Somebody nominated me, I don’t know who, I don’t know if it’s the students or whoever. And I had to answer some questions like, why do I want Faculty of the Year? And I wrote something such as, I’m president of Sigma Theta Tau, you can always find me at the games, or I go to all plays. I just love the College; I love the atmosphere of it. That’s what I wrote.

Then the students voted and a month before Baccalaureate, Amy [Smith, Dean of the Cummings School of Nursing] said, “Bethany, come in my office. I have something to talk to you about.” I said, “All right.” And I’m sitting there, and then Sara [Quay, Provost] came in, and they handed me a letter. It asked if I would accept winning Faculty of the Year, and that I would have to give a speech. I was just crying. I was just so emotional. I was so touched and humbled.

What does winning Faculty of the Year mean to you?

It’s such an honor because it’s from the students. I am all about the students—even after they graduate. I believe I have an audience—as a nurse, I teach students all about public health and how to be healthy and take care of yourself. And I worry about students and their mental and physical health. I have these things called “Nasserisms”—

This leads me to my next question! You spoke about these “Nasserisms” during your speech. What are some of them?

A Nasserism is a life lesson, like a philosophy—such as “be kind to yourself,” or, “I want everyone to go for a walk today.” Then I check in and see who went for their walk, who made friends with somebody in the classroom—and I can’t tell you how many students say, “That person became my best friend.” I tell students, “You might not be tested on this, but this is better than any test question.”

Bethany Nasser

Where does your positivity come from?

I try to be positive every day and sometimes tell the students, “I’m not always this person,” because I have times when I have to be quiet and recharge my energy but for them, I show up. It might also come from a cup of coffee. I tell my students I do get down, but when we come to class, we’re all here for a purpose, and I give them 150%, so I ask for 100% from them. I try to be entertaining. I had a great boss with whom I taught test prep, and I emulate him. He always showed up, he was always so positive.

When did you know you wanted to pursue nursing? What about teaching?

I wanted to be a writer, but when I went to school, I thought nursing was an honorable profession where I’d maybe have time to write. I’ve done a little writing, but once I got into nursing, I knew I wanted to teach after I started working at Mass General Hospital and became a preceptor. I went back to school to get my master’s to be a nurse educator—I like being a nurse and teaching nurses to be a nurse. I’ve been a nurse educator for 30 years now. 

What is an important lesson you’ve learned throughout your career?

When our students are applying for jobs and going on interviews, I tell them that their happiness and working with people they like who will mentor and help them grow is worth more than any money they can make. That is my number one thing: I want them to be happy.

What’s your favorite part about working with students?

I love to watch their growth from teaching them in fundamentals to seeing them as a senior—I teach three senior classes—and I marvel at the people they grow into at Endicott. That is the best thing to see—for them to grow, and then to see them reflect on that growth.

When thinking about nursing at Endicott and the changes that have transpired over the past two years, what excites you about the future of nursing at the College?

I love being in the center of the campus, and it’s changed the dynamic of everything. Our students are studying, eating, and making relationships with each other and they’re studying in groups—it’s changed the field. We’re also expanding—we have the ABSN program, the DNP program, and the PA program is starting. We’ll collaborate with other healthcare professionals.

Who do you look up to, and why?

At Endicott, I look up to Amy [Smith]—she’s a great friend and mentor— and many of my colleagues here at the Cummings School of Nursing. I still look up to a lot of my Mass General nurses.

What are your plans for the summer?

I’ve already been to North Carolina for a wedding. I just got back from Napa and San Francisco. I’m going to Montana next week and Yellowstone National Park—I’ve always wanted to go. We’re heading there to celebrate a friend’s birthday, then extending the trip to Yellowstone and going to Mount Rushmore. I’m having a busy summer! I’m so excited.