Tag Archives: prison

Living a Healthy Lifestyle in Prison

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By Corbin Smith

 

Sometimes, as a society, it is easy for us to forget that prisoners truly are human beings. We often think of inmates as savages, people who deserve to suffer for the crimes they have committed. We think of people like Ted Bundy or Bonnie and Clyde and it fills our hearts and minds with disgust towards these men and women. Not only that, but we are also scared of jails, only thinking about the horrific stories and rumors we hear. We timidly gaze at the walls as we drive by on the freeway, wondering if what the media tells us is true. Never would we choose to go inside!

That’s not how associate teaching professor Dr. Peggy Anderson thinks! For many years, Anderson has worked with, loved and served those who are currently in prison. In fact, in the past Anderson served as the Relief Society President in the Utah state prison, providing both temporal and spiritual support for the prisoners.

Along with her own personal endeavors, Anderson has begun to invite students to participate in a women’s fireside inside the prison as part of their clinical practicum of the public and global health nursing course. However, this experience is much different than the clinical practicums that take you abroad.

On May 19th, Anderson, accompanied by a group of students, went to the Utah State Prison with the goal to serve, bless and teach those inside. The theme of the fireside was “Enjoying a Healthy Lifestyle.” The focus of Anderson and the students was to help the inmates understand the importance of not only physical health, but also emotional and spiritual health. Speaking of their purpose in the prison, 5th semester student Kayla Brantley says, “The prison is supposed to be a correctional facility. Correction needs to take place and they need help to make that correction for themselves, which is what we are there for.”

For that reason, students shared small devotionals with the inmates on a variety of topics. Some of the topics shared by the students included self-worth, dealing with stress, strength in Christ and even the Atonement. Brantley and her husband, Adam, also shared their talents in a unique way through a special musical number, singing “I Know My Redeemer Lives” with the ukulele!

While this fireside was beneficial for the inmates, it also was impactful for the students. Talking about his experience with the inmates, 6th semester student James Reinhardt says, “It was cool to be able to feel the Spirit in the prison and even feel the Spirit with them.” Since the fireside, Reinhardt has begun working shifts in the prison and has decided to do his capstone project there too!

It was an unforgettable experience for all who participated in the fireside. The greatest lesson the students were able to learn was that, even though in prison, each of the women attending the fireside are people who have value and worth. “It’s easy to think about what terrible things they could have done to get into prison, but as soon as you meet and see them you remember God loves them and Jesus sacrificed himself so they could be freed,” says Brantley.

 

Pageants, Prison and Pediatrics; A Spotlight on Nursing Alumna Catherine Whittaker

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Whittaker serving in a retirement home after winning Ms. Utah Senior. Photos courtesy of Whittaker.

By Corbin Smith

Jesus Christ once taught, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Christ went on to illustrate this concept by sharing a story we all know and love: The Good Samaritan. While on a trip to Jerico, a Jewish man was robbed, beaten and abandoned by a group of thieves. While a priest and a Levite passed by this dying man without offering any help, a Samaritan, someone who had likely struggled due to social discriminations, stopped and helped nurse the injured man back to help. That example of service and compassion is exactly how BYU nursing alumna Catherine Whittaker (AS ’74) has lived her life since she was a young woman.

Catherine Whittaker was born and raised in Provo, Utah. Ever since her first breath, Whittaker has recognized the positive impact nurses have had on her life. When Whittaker was born sick and pre-mature, it was her mother, who was a professionally trained nurse, along with many other nurses that saved her when the doctors said it was unlikely she would survive. Later on in life, when her father left when she was 17 years old, she was charged with caring for her six younger siblings alongside her mother. These experiences as a teenager inspired Whittaker to come to BYU and study to be a nurse in 1972.

Since her days at the Y, she has been a registered nurse for 45 years in various medical specialties and settings, from labor and delivery to maternal fetal medicine. Incredibly, she has personally helped bring over 3,000 babies into the world. With all of her experience in the field of nursing, she says that she has learned two major lessons that have guided her life.

First, that service is based off of love. While working in labor and delivery, Whittaker had a personal experience with a close friend. As her friend got closer to the due date of her third child, various complications arose due to the Rh factor in her blood. Hours later, a beautiful 8 ½ pound stillborn baby was born. Whittaker was able to be with her friend in those heart-wrenching moments to comfort and lift her dear friend. Even though it is hard, Whittaker recognizes the impact of a caring nurse in the face of tragedy. “I love being able to have intimate experiences with each patient and their families, it really helps you love each person you serve” says Whittaker.

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Whittaker (far right), along with three fellow Ms. Senior America contestants. 

Second, when asked how nursing has set her up for lifelong service she says, “It gave me confidence in myself and allowed me to come out of my shell.” Whittaker is a woman of many talents and titles. In 2018, Whittaker was named Ms. Utah Senior America and was the 3rd runner-up at the Senior Nationals pageant. Together with that honor, she was presented the 2019 Mother of Achievement award, recognizing the impact she has made outside of her family.

Whittaker also spends a lot of time in prison! She is part of “Real Transitions” that helps women transition from prison to society, as well as she serves with her husband in a branch presidency in the Utah State prison. “Whether you are preparing a prescription for a patient or serving people in your community” says Whittaker, “you must be confident in yourself at all times.”

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Whittaker visits with a US Navy veteran.

Florence Nightingale once said, “I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.” In a great piece of advice given from Whittaker to current nursing students she says, “Be creative. Do what you love. Serve how you love.” It doesn’t matter if she is on stage, in the hospital or with her husband John and dog Bojo at home, she truly is a hero to all.