We’re proud of the ambitions and accomplishments of our students and alumni – learn some of their stories in our monthly feature:
Michele Rebman ’23
Student, Associate of Science in Nursing program
A wealth of life experiences – both traumatic and rewarding – have shaped who Michele Rebman is today. Several years ago, as a sophomore at Millersville University, Michele faced a family tragedy followed by her own severe illness, which involved organ failure and crippling depression and anxiety. She shares: “If it wasn’t for my therapist and my incredible support team, I would not be even half of the person I am today. They have all taught me that it is okay to not be okay and that mental health matters. I have learned that almost everything will work again if you unplug it for just a few minutes, even yourself. Sometimes, you simply just have to have courage and be kind when faced with a challenging situation.”
Michele also feels deeply connected with her PA College community and notes: “I am thankful to call PA College my home because the faculty and staff here are like family. What I love best about the ASN program is how supportive each instructor is and their willingness to help every student.” Michele aspires to work in an ICU or Trauma Unit once she becomes an RN, to gain a variety of experience before continuing her education. Currently working as a psychiatric technician and activities therapist for WellSpan Health Philhaven on their psychiatric unit, Michele also recently accepted a student nurse position at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
In addition to serving on PA College’s Student Council, Michele also pursues her passion for mental health through pageants. “This past fall I competed in my pageant system’s nationals and won the national title,” Michele shares. “I went from being the former Miss Pennsylvania to now being the reigning All American Miss title holder. I prepared for nationals while staying up with my grades and traveling all over the United States for appearances to promote my platform Mental Health Matters. I also help with my pageant system’s national platform Operation We Care which involves giving back to our first responders and our troops all over the world.”
This summer, Michelle will earn bachelor’s degrees from Millersville University in both biology and psychology and is on track to graduate from PA College in 2023. Her calendar may be full, but she notes: “My goal every day is to make at least one person smile. I also live by the quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ These words have helped me through more tough times than I can remember.”
Sheila Charmaine Murphy Thomas, RN ’64
Retired, Stanford University Medical Center
When Sheila Charmaine Thomas began her nursing education in 1961, the Lancaster General Hospital School of Nursing (now PA College) was her number one choice. A forty-year career would follow, ending with two decades at the Stanford University Medical Center, where she specialized in Perinatal Nursing. Charmaine obtained certification in Grief & Loss Care, and then developed a collaborative Team of MDs, RNs, Social Workers, and Chaplains. She shares: “Our proactively-structured approach was recognized for training, and also provided to other local hospitals, Grand Rounds, and even hospitals in other states. We organized an Annual Memory Quilt, and a gathering together with families, where we made, or helped them to make, a quilt square in memory of their loss.” Sheila Charmaine was also part of the medical center’s Life Flight team – learning to fly a Cessna 152 airplane for transport safety backup, and later progressing to the helicopter rescue program.
When she retired from Stanford in 2002, Sheila Charmaine wore her nursing student uniform before celebrating at a party with colleagues (pictured here). However, she maintained her licensing until 2015, leading a Services-to-Seniors program through her church. This ranged from home health care assessments, transports to MD care, post-rehab home care and financial and legal assistance where needed, including serving as the Durable POA and Medial POA for individuals without available family resources. And as a breast cancer survivor for over eleven years now, Sheila Charmaine is proud to have also helped other women of all ages through this life-changing experience.
When asked what advice she would give to our students, Sheila Charmaine offered: “Learn something new every day, stretch your learning into challenging areas of your clinical experiences, really listen to your patients and their family’s concerns/questions and challenge yourself to expand your areas of skills and expertise every year with renewed goals. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone……Yes, who would have thought that Sheila Charmaine would learn to solo fly an airplane?”
Sheila Charmaine has been married to her husband Donald for nearly 58 years. He and his brothers own seven Planet Fitness franchises, an endeavor to which Sheila Charmaine has also contributed. Her hobbies include quilting, making stained-glass art works and travel – she has visited 56 countries and nearly all 50 U.S. states. She keeps physically fit through daily walking, cycling and running – having competed in fifteen half-marathons and one full marathon. Next year on her 80th birthday, Charmaine plans to compete in another half marathon “with her three daughters and as many of my six grandchildren who can keep up with me,” she notes.
Seeking People of PA College
Do you know an exceptional current student or alumnus whose experiences and accomplishments would help tell the PA College story? Or someone who has overcome an obstacle or reached a challenging milestone during their PA College experience? Please email your suggested names (and identify them in one of these categories) to Karen Jenkins. Self-nominations are also welcome!