College of Nursing Award Recipients
Nancy Happel Alsace, Nurs ’79
Nancy took the caring, compassionate values and skills embodied in a Marquette nursing education on a worldwide tour, serving a diverse, international mix of patients before returning to the United States and running a mobile health care van to help the underserved.
That's the way her husband, Juan Alsace, Arts '80, describes his wife's career, with unmistakable admiration and pride. Juan acknowledges that Nancy followed him - to law school, his first job and eventually to the many locations required for his work in the U.S. Foreign Service. But Nancy found an outlet for her skills and brand of compassionate care wherever the couple traveled.
Nancy provided health care to Peace Corps volunteers in the Dominican Republic ("Ask me about tarantulas in the volunteer cabin!" she quips.) and worked as a nurse at an international school in Karachi, Pakistan. Having earned her master's in nursing and nurse practitioner certificate during a stint in Washington, D.C., she later served as a medical officer for the State Department in overseas positions in Istanbul, Turkey, and Santiago, Chile.
Interspersed with her overseas experiences was work in D.C. that she calls "give-back" opportunities. She taught advanced practitioner students and medical residents how to provide cost-effective, culturally sensitive health care at two local inner-city clinics. For five years, in "the most challenging and personally enriching position in my 35 years of practice," she managed a hospital-based mobile health care van providing primary care to underserved, ethnically diverse, non-English-speaking populations. "The cultural diversity experienced in my overseas life was integral to my success as 'La Doctora' to some of the most generous, grateful, kind and almost always very poor patients," she says.
Now in Toronto, she and Juan plan to move back to Milwaukee, where Nancy would like to return to community clinical work. "It would be terrific - a closing of the circle," she says, "if I could do so in collaboration with Marquette's own community outreach efforts."
Fun facts: Nancy and Juan adopted two awesome children during their early travels; their daughter, Renee, in Quito, Ecuador, and son, John, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.