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Helen Beckley

Portrait of Helen Beckley, Rachel and Stephen Beckley
Portrait of Helen Beckley, Rachel and Stephen Beckley

Helen Beckley experience
by Dr. Grace Jacobson, RN, ISU Associate Professor Emerita

I first met Helen when my family and I moved to Pocatello, Idaho, in 1973 from a two year tour with the Army in Germany. My husband, Jake had just retired after a 29 year military career. We wanted to settle down, put the children in schools in a safe environment, have a college for my husband to continue his education and hopefully, a place for me to work. I had a BS in Nursing and had worked in both civilian and military hospitals in the US and abroad. The first house we looked at was being sold by recent faculty members, Irene and Hans Nielsen, from the ISU Nursing School. She was a midwife planning to move her family to Oregon and set up her own birthing clinic. We shared experiences in obstetrics, my favorite nursing area. While I rounded up the three kids, Jake signed papers to purchase the house. Then Irene informed me that I had an appointment with Mrs. Beckley, the Chair of Nursing at ISU. I am sure I looked shocked, but Irene simply said that she had discussed my experiences with Helen and both decided she and I needed to meet. Meet we did! By late afternoon my family not only had a house, but I had a job teaching students in clinical at Bannock Hospital.

I was so impressed by Helen Beckley. Tall and slender, beautifully groomed, with a wide smile, her compassion and kindness were obvious. Her strength of character, dedication to nursing and the school, as well as persistence, a guiding vision of future needs in health care and the drive to meet goals she had set were evident as I worked with her the next two years. She was a wonderful mentor for me in guiding how I taught and interacted with students, inspiring me to continue my own formal education and instilling an appreciation of the importance of political awareness and community activity.

Helen served at ISU from 1962 through 1975 and was active in health related boards and legislative conferences on local and state levels until her passing in 1986. She quadrupled program enrollment, secured grants of more than $2 million including funding of the current nursing building, participated in the original National League for Nursing study on open curriculum, to facilitate Idaho RN's in obtaining a BS degree and then introduced curricular modules, both self paced, and for accredited workshops, to help rural nurses obtain their degrees. She initiated the satellite program, first at Twin Falls - it was challenging teaching assignment, especially in winter! In the new building, we had a pool, used for student learning and therapeutic forerunner of collaborative client services. Helen hired the first doctorate prepared faculty member, recognizing the need for increased competencies.

I believe that Helen strengthened the nursing program to lay the base for the strong forward looking programs we have today. Did she picture our growth through the current DNP and PhD? I wouldn't be surprised! She would be so very pleased that scholarships for full time SON students are available through the Helen Beckley Endowment.

Helen Beckley's Impact
by Randall Hudspeth, PhD, MS, APRN-CNP/CNS, FRE, FAANP

Helen Beckley had a great impact on me, like she did on so many students and on nursing in Idaho. I first met Helen in May 1973 when I decided to apply to the 3-year ISU BSN nursing program. I had been a foreign language major for 2 years and to support myself I had been working as a nurse aide/orderly. I saw what RNs did and I decided I could do that too. Despite a high GPA and good ACT scores, I did not have the required pre-requisites for admission to the nursing program. I was also a long-haired hippie kid living the easy college life like so many did in those days. I am sure that I did not fit the profile that Helen wanted for nursing students, who in those days wore blue pin-stripe uniforms, contained hair and student caps. At our first meeting she was gracious, inquiring and understanding. She listened to my request for admission and she graciously said no.

I went ahead and enrolled in the summer courses of microbiology and cell biology. In August, armed with an A and a B in my summer courses, I again went to see Helen to seek admission. I argued that I was an Idaho resident, was proving myself in the required coursework and I knew I could be successful in the nursing program. I just needed the opportunity. A week later Helen called me to tell me that I had been provisionally accepted and that I would need to complete the pre-requisites while a first semester nursing student. I thought that I must have won her over with my arguments because she commented that I was a good debater, but in reality another student had dropped creating an opening. She watched my progress and at the end of December, with all A's and B's, Helen told me that I was fully accepted.

In April 1974 I asked her advice about running for the ASISU Senator for the College of Medical Arts. She encouraged me and she gave me some good advice. She told me to stand for something, not against something. She gave me campaign and speaking tips. I was elected and reelected Senator, and I served through my senior year. Politics fascinated me and I wanted to become engaged with the nursing student association. In those days a student had to have permission from the school director or dean to run for office. Again Helen stood behind me and encouraged me as I was elected the INSA president in my junior year and to the national board as NSNA Imprint Editor for my senior year. She announced her retirement my senior year and was honored at our white graduation. One of my final acts as ASISU Senator was to sponsor a student resolution passed by the Senate to name the nursing building after Helen Beckley.

Looking back at those student experiences over 40 years ago, I realize how little I knew about the legacies that Helen Beckley would leave to ISU and to nursing in Idaho. I did not fully understand how much having a mentor like Helen Beckley meant to a young college kid from rural Idaho. I have had a phenomenal nursing career and I owe much to her encouragement and guidance. Helen Beckley was kind enough to give me a chance at nursing, and I was fortunate enough to make it a success.

Helen Beckley auto biography article
Helen V. Beckley was born in Callaway, Nebraska. She received a diploma at Mary Lanning Hospital School of Nursing in Nebraska. Keep reading >>

Distinguished Alumni

Randy Hudspeth

Randy Hudspeth

Randy graduated from Idaho State University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in nursing. He went on to earn an Adult Nurse Practitioner, Advanced Practice Nursing and Clinical Nurse Specialist degrees. Since 2002, Hudspeth, who has 34 years full-time work experience, has been the director of Advanced Practice and Specialty Nursing at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. He was the Chief Clinical Officer and Nurse Practitioner at Idaho Cardiology Associates in Boise from 2000 to 2002. Hudspeth worked in a variety of positions at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 1988 to 1999, achieving the post of Deputy Chief of Nursing Affairs. This facility was an international tertiary care referral center and its nursing critical care department had about 500 nurses. He is an affiliate ISU faculty member and is an accomplished researcher. He has received many awards throughout his career, including being inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in 2008. He co-authored "Charting Idaho Nursing History" with Verlene Kaiser. Randy and his wife Ingrid who is also a nurse live in the Treasure Valley.

The School of Nursing extends their thanks to Randy and Ingrid for generously supporting the School of Nursing Ph.D. with a named endowment, the Randy and Ingrid Hudspeth Scholarship Endowment.

Professional Achievement Award

LuAnn Storm Meurer Howe

LuAnn Storm Meurer Howe

Mrs. LuAnn Howe has been granted the prestigious honor of becoming Idaho State University School of Nursing's Professional Achievement Award recipient for 2013.

Howe graduated from Detroit Lakes High School in 1957 and went on to obtain a baccalaureate in Nursing from Idaho State University in 1961.

While at Idaho State University Howe was an active student, participating and holding offices in the ISU and State Student Nurses Organization. She was also an active member of the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority.

Howe has had an expansive work history ranging from large hospitals to home health care. She and her husband owned Personalized Home Care and Home Maker agency, which provided care for patients 60 years and older wishing to remain safely at home with custodial care. They sold the company in 2007 and retired. Howe feels her best achievements were endeavors to advocate for the middle income senior who is attempting to maintain a safe, independent, productive life at home.

The School of Nursing is honored to present Luann Howe with the 2013 School of Nursing Professional Achievement Award and to welcome her back to campus in May 2013 for a reception in her honor.

Alumni Tracking

James Farmer

James Farmer

James Farmer graduated from Idaho State University School of Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner program in May of 2013. He was awarded a residency with the VA and will be providing primary care services for veterans in a Medical Home approach to care. James will be practicing in the ER, Women's Health, Inpatient acute care and specialty clinics and is looking forward to this opportunity.



921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, Idaho, 83209