Friends see nurse's dream come true

June 7, 2011 3:37:46 PM PDT
This is a story of courage, fortitude, and love at the highest level.

No one loved being a nurse more than Rose Mary Smith.

For several years, Rose was a sexual assault nurse, even though she didn't love the work.

"She knew the people needed her there and she did it. That's the kind of person Rose was, all the time," Rose's husband Wayne Smith said.

So it was no real surprise when late in life, she decided to go back to school for her Bachelor of Nursing Science degree.

She wasn't expecting, of course, to develop a brain tumor, but still she was not discouraged.

"When she could no longer drive because she was losing vision in her left eye, I'd drive her over to the school," Smith said.

"As she realized she was getting ill, the two goals she held closest were to have a grandchild and finish her education," Patti Spahn of Cooper University Hospital said.

She got her wish of a grandchild.

But Rose was two credits shy of her BSN and feared her second goal wouldn't be realized.

Two days ago she lost her battle with cancer, but what she didn't realize was the power of friendship.

"She had earned her degree, many times over in her good works," Spahn said.

Her colleagues took action, contacting Immaculata University and today the Dean presented her degree to her family.

"We got so many e-mails supporting her from colleagues and friends; it was phenomenal," Dean Samuel Wrightson, Jr. said.

"They just love her so much and for them to go through all this to have this happen," Rose's daughter Kim Lundmark said.

"Ever since I was little, she was so motivating, she was incredible," Rose's son Tony Smith said.

Dean Wrightson says Rose would have qualified to graduate summa cum laude.