Dina Hewett, right, reacts as she gets a hug while receiving her award from Sandra Greniewicki during Masters in the Art of Nursing: Healers among us on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 at Whalen Auditorium in Brenau East in Featherbone Communiversity in Gainesville. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Dina Hewett, right, reacts as she gets a hug while receiving her award from Sandra Greniewicki during Masters in the Art of Nursing: Healers among us on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 at Whalen Auditorium in Brenau East in Featherbone Communiversity in Gainesville. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Program Recognizes Three Veteran Nurses Including Brenau Director Dina Hewett

Feb. 16, 2018
Kristen Bowman
Dina Hewett, from right to left, Eva Johnson and Debbie Huckaby applaud during Masters in the Art of Nursing: Healers among us on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 at Whalen Auditorium in Brenau East in Featherbone Communiversity in Gainesville. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Dina Hewett, from right to left, Eva Johnson and Debbie Huckaby applaud during Masters in the Art of Nursing: Healers among us on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 at Whalen Auditorium in Brenau East in Featherbone Communiversity in Gainesville. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Three women who all share a passion for improving health care and the health of the people they serve were recognized for their excellence on Thursday, Feb. 15, at the program titled Masters in the Art of Nursing: Healers among us.

Presented by Brenau University and the Featherbone Communiversity, the eighth annual Masters in the Art of Nursing honored Dina Hewett, Brenau alumna and director of the Mary Inez Grindle Nursing School; Eva Johnson, heart failure disease manager for Northeast Georgia Health System and volunteer at Good News Clinics; and Evelyn Waugh, a longtime director of the nursing school and a former vice president of nursing services at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Hewett graduated from Brenau Women’s College in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She served as a nursing faculty member from 1999-2000, which included a role on the assessment committee from 1998-2000 and undergraduate committee chair for nursing from 1999-2000. Her teaching experience also involved work as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Psychology. She earned a master’s degree as an adult clinical nurse specialist from Georgia Southern University and a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Georgia. Additionally she worked at St. Mary’s Healthcare System in Athens, Georgia, as the director of several departments.

“She’s an outstanding scholar and educator, and she’s highly skilled,” said Sandra Greniewicki, chair of the program, who is retiring this year after roughly 30 years with the university. “She is always striving to provide her very best practice and her very finest education. She does so many things that make her a master of nursing.”

When asked how she balanced work and a personal life while accomplishing so much in her career, Hewett credited her husband, Chuck, for his support.

“I have such a passion for this,” she said. “That’s what drives me every day, but more than anything what keeps me grounded every day is my husband and my family.”

Hewett also credited her many mentors over the course of her career, who she said “showed me to lead with love and kindness.”

Johnson, who has worked in the industry for nearly 35 years, agreed. The nurse practitioner specialist is responsible for the medical management of all patients admitted to Northeast Georgia with heart failure. She also provides community, medical and nursing staff education.

“It’s a stressful job, any type of nursing you do,” she said. “So you have to find the thing outside of your profession that lets you destress. You have to learn to take care of yourself.”

Johnson said she worked hard to become a nurse, and she believes her career is still evolving after three decades.

“There are obstacles in everyone’s life,” she said. “But you have to have the determination to set short-term and then long-term goals. I’m not done yet. I’m almost 58 … and my dream is to have a system of health clinics throughout the United States that will serve the underserved. I may be 80 years old before I reach that, but I’ve set those goals.”

“There are no shortcuts,” added Hewett, who said she had to overcome some struggling grades early in her education to become a nurse. “But in the end it’s worth every single minute.”

Waugh, who could not be present Thursday because of failing health, was recognized by the master of ceremonies Deb Bailey, executive director of government affairs at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Bailey said she met Waugh when she was a 17-year-old high school student and Waugh was dean of the nursing school.

“She quickly told me I did not have the makeup to be a nurse,” Bailey said. “She assured me that was the case. Like other 17-year-olds, I thought, ‘What’s this lady’s problem?’”

But, said Bailey, Waugh would become “my lifelong mentor,” giving Bailey opportunities to improve and better herself.

Described as innovative and visionary, Waugh was in part responsible for bringing the Hall School of Nursing to Brenau University, developing what is today the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing.

Brenau University Provost Jim Eck credited all three women for leading careers with “purpose and joy.”

“What sets the health sciences, particularly nursing, apart from other vocations?” he said. “First, I think there is often a focus on making decisions that do the most good for the most people. This utilitarian calculation is not focusing inward so much as it is outward. As Erik Erikson would say, there is a commitment to generativity rather than stagnation. There is covenant between you and your patients to discover ways to live better, healthier, happier lives.”

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