All-University Award Recipients
Service to Community Award
DR. CATHERINE TAYLOR FOSTER,
NURS '58, GRAD '62
Orland Park, Ill.
Dr. Catherine Taylor Foster has the kind of last name that accurately depicts her whole life’s work — fostering care as a doctor of nursing, a decorated Army nurse, a Peace Corps Volunteer and a global humanitarian to those most in need at home and abroad.
Catherine earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Marquette, where, as a member of Phi Eta Chi, the university’s service sorority, she commenced her lifetime of service to others.
After nearly 40 years as a registered nurse and advancing to the rank of colonel in the Army Nurse Corps, U.S. Army Reserve, a new occasion presented itself: She was invited to join the Peace Corps and became a community health volunteer coordinator.
“At Marquette, the understanding that I could set goals and work hard and achieve
them was reinforced,” says Catherine, who, during high school, helped care for her
mother, who died of cancer. “Also, the opportunities for increased knowledge and
understanding of my faith were very meaningful to me. These have served me well
throughout my life.”
Speaking of serving well, in 1996, at age 59, Catherine moved to a remote region of Nepal where health care was not readily available. She worked alongside local health staff and volunteers, educating them about how to treat and support patients, set up clinics, and coordinate immunizations. Also, she was posted to a plastic surgery hospital where she cared for patients before, during and after surgery. She grew to love the region so much that she returned to Kathmandu as a Fulbright Senior Scholar to teach at Tribhuvan University.
The more Catherine volunteers, the more adventure charts her course. Now a member of several Peace Corps and Nepali groups, plus professional and military organizations in the United States, she has traveled to Albania, Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Bhutan, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, 13 European countries, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Sikkim, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet and Uganda. She even had the privilege of meeting Mother Teresa and working with her sisters at her Orphanage and Home for the Destitute and Dying in Calcutta, India.
At 74, Catherine, a native of Madison, Wis., remains as active as she was when the ink was still wet on her diplomas. She is an active member of the Orland Park (Ill.) Veterans Commission, a World Health Organization consultant, a service officer and a member of the American Legion color guard. She also volunteers weekly in patient administration at the Edward Hines, Jr. (Ill.) Veterans Administration Hospital, is a Red Cross disaster volunteer, and is active with the United Way of Dane County, Wis., taking part in its annual Day of Caring and as loaned executive in Hungary. Also, among many other volunteer efforts, she travels to other countries as a member of plastic surgery and eye teams to provide operating room and recovery room nursing care.
“It takes so little from me to do something that helps others so much,” Catherine says. “I’ve been very blessed with an education and skills the world can benefit from. I feel an obligation, along with a strong desire, to use whatever I have to help others.”
When she’s not giving care to others who need it, Catherine is fostering life lessons and love to grandsons Jason, Patrick, Brian and Joshua. She has plans for them. Are you surprised?
“I want to expose them to various cultures and languages and hope to take them with me on my overseas working trips when they get older,” she says. “Three of them are taking Spanish, which should help.”
Fun facts: A brief look at some of the awards and honors Catherine has received over the years: Sigma Theta Tau International, the nursing honor society; Kappa Delta Pi, the education honor society; winner of the Peace Corps Lillian Carter Award; numerous military medals, including two Meritorious Service Medals and the Joint Service Commendation Medal; the Orland Park Community Pride Award, President’s Volunteer Service Award and Lions Club Heroism Medal; and the American Legion Humanitarian Medal.