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Our Alumni

Alumna treasures her first (uncomfortable!) nursing cap

Carefully kept, it symbolizes a vital milestone for Karen Bonini McGee ’64, who led an accomplished career as a nurse-midwife.

A whiteish rectangle of fabric, with a black velvet ribbon a quarter of an inch from the top, is shown arched as if on top of a nurse’s head.

(Photo by Jodi Miller)

Carefully wrapped in tissue paper and placed beneath a stack of silk scarves in the top drawer of my bureau, my nursing cap from Ohio State represents a legacy moment on my journey to become a nurse-midwife. I earned the crisply starched cap with my name printed in black ink on the inside hem during our capping ceremony my junior year. I wore it with pride — and discomfort!

A white woman wearing glasses looks straight at the viewer with a slight smile. Her short hair is tussled and she looks smart.
Karen Bonini McGee
(Illustration by Michael Hoeweler)

The cap was unbelievably stiff from its treatment at the laundry around the corner from Neil Hall, where many nursing students lived. It required a bevy of bobby pins to keep it in place, and my head ached by the end of my clinical shifts. The cap was without its black velvet band for most of my time as a nursing student. That came my senior year, serving as a confidence booster that signaled my readiness to move forward as a nurse.

I have cherished my cap as a reminder of the early years of my nursing studies. Both this cap and my Ohio State education are treasures. With each move, I pack and unpack my cap with care, taking time to recall the education that prepared me for my life’s work as a certified nurse-midwife.

My commitment to nursing, and especially to midwifery, is a testament to the high standards and principles of critical thinking to which I was held. I have come a long way since receiving my cap and committing to life as a nurse-midwife, but the years have never dimmed my gratitude to the people of Ohio State who had high expectations for my classmates and me in the early 1960s.

What do you treasure?

Do you have a keepsake tied to Ohio State that you can’t part with? Email us a photo and the tale of your object to, and we’ll consider it for a future issue.

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