Leaving A Nursing Legacy 65 over 65 - Immaculata “Mackie” Alba
About the Honoree
Immaculata, or Mackie to those who knew her, was the consummate teacher. She loved her profession and believed with all her heart in her students, the Art of Nursing, and the ability of nurses to rise above their situation and to do what is right for their patients, their profession and each other.
The first born of hardworking Italian immigrant parents, Mackie was the first in her family to go on to higher education. A 1945 graduate of West Haven High School, Mackie entered the Saint Raphael’s Hospital School of Nursing that year. Whether drawn to Nursing through her devout Catholic faith or the loss of her younger sister Gloria to pneumonia at age 16, Mackie dedicated her life to serving others. While in nursing school she entered the US Cadet Nurse Corps, and in 1948 graduated as an RN. She continued working at Saint Raphael’s Hospital under the guidance and mentorship of Sister Louise Anthony Geronemo both in clinical practice and as a nursing instructor.
Ever striving to elevate the professional status of nursing and her own knowledge, Mackie enrolled in NYU and in 1958 received her BSN and Masters in Nursing. Upon graduating she returned to Connecticut as a professor of nursing at the University of Connecticut (UCONN) where she taught until 1969. At this time she and three fellow professors founded the School of Nursing at Southern Connecticut State College (now University).
Mackie continued to teach at SCSU for 20 years. During this time she published, lectured and was most proud of being invited by Dr.Joyce Hoyt Cliffordto teach as a temporary Adjunct professor and lecturer at Harvardand Beth Israel Deaconess in her area of expertise, Geriatrics. Dr. Clifford, a former student of Mackie’s at St. Raphael’s, who as nursing administrator and Vice presidentof Beth Israel Hospital, led the push for primary nursing, higher mandated education for entry level nurses and “a partnership of equals”, and collaboration between nursing and medical staff. These Ideals and values she said were inspired by Mackie’s vision of professional nursing.
In 1989 Mackie retired from SCSU and was granted Professor Emeritus Status. Unable to pull herself away from the students and program she so loved she continued to teach and assist at SCSU until 2009. During her tenure at SCSU Mackie’spassion for nursing and teaching positively impacted many other students.
Current SCSU Department of Nursing Chairperson, Dr. Lisa Rebeschi, reflected back on her association with Mackie as student, peer and friend. As an undergraduate,“Mackie was the nurse I wanted to become. Caring, smart, dedicated, hardworking, genuine and humble. She was always there to listen, answer questions, motivate and most of all, to tell you what a good choice you had made in selecting nursing as your lifelong work.” Because of Mackie’s inspiration Dr. Rebeschi went on to become a nurse educator. “I wanted to be able to shape the practice of new nurses in the way Mackie had. She made it seem so easy. It came so naturally for her. When you were with her you knew you had made the best choice of professions”.
Instrumental in the development of the first local chapter of Sigma Theta Tau (Mu Beta, est. 1990) at SCSU,Mackie embodied the spirit of the organization’s name meaning Love, Courage and Honor from the Greek storge’, Tharos and Time’. She served as a chapter officer for eight years. The Mu Beta Chapter Excellence in Nursing Practice Award is named for her. In addition, the University’s High Fidelity Simulation Lab was dedicated in her honor.
In her last days Mackie was ever the nursing professor. Always eager to discuss the history of nursing, the importance of professional development, and compassion for patients and each other with those nurses fortunate enough to care for her. Herpersonal satisfaction of her life lived in service to the profession and her love of family and friends will endure in those she touched and through her legacy of students, their students and the nursing community.