A Pin with a Promise

Laura Block ’20 continues legacy created by Nancy Seegers Schaper ’57

By Jordan Langer

Laura Block
Laura Block, a 2020 graduate and School of Nursing pin recipient

For many Badger nurses, the tradition of a pin being passed from one nurse is threaded with a promise to carry on a legacy. School of Nursing alumna Nancy Seegers Schaper passed away on September 1, 2017. Before her death, she donated her nursing pin back to the School of Nursing with instructions to pass it on to a deserving nurse who both emulated the Wisconsin Idea and had an infectious passion for nursing.

The School of Nursing’s Pin Tradition

Designed in 1926 by Helen Denne Schulte, the School of Nursing’s first director, the pin consists of the university’s seal on a maroon cross with a caduceus. The pattée dates from the Middle Ages when it was worn by the Knights Hospitaller, a nursing order. Its wings represent a bird covering its young, symbolizing protection and nursing. A caduceus, two snakes winding around a staff, symbolizes medicine. Each year, select pins are passed on from alumni to new graduates in recognition of the recipient’s achievement and future promise. Laura Block, a 2020 graduate, received Schaper’s pin this past May.

“I hope to continue in the strong tradition of nurses before me, including Nancy, who have touched so many lives over the years.” — Laura Block

Block expressed her sincere gratitude on being selected: “I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this pin, which not only symbolizes nursing leadership and service, but also provides a meaningful connection to its donor. I hope to continue in the strong tradition of nurses before me, including Nancy, who have touched so many lives over the years. Graduating in the year of 2020—the Year of the Nurse—amidst a global pandemic that highlights both the role of the nurse and the vulnerability of our health care system and communities also holds incredible meaning. In the spirit of this pin, I look forward to contributing to this incredible profession, working across multiple generations of nurses to come alongside communities, and promoting health and equity.”

According to Schaper’s family, her business card read: “Nancy Schaper, RN, BSN, MOF.” She was a pillar of Caldwell County’s medical community in Princeton, Kentucky; a loving wife; and a devoted mother of five daughters. One of her greatest contributions was founding the first rural home health program in Western Kentucky. Thanks to her efforts, Caldwell County Home Health has provided necessary health care services to thousands of individuals in the community and is a keystone of the Caldwell Medical Center today. Schaper’s dedication to care was apparent in all aspects of her life: if there was a need, she tried to fill it.

Similarly, Block has been described as humble, kind, and approachable, with many peers noting that she is quick to reach out to offer help or mentorship at any time of day. Block helped School of Nursing faculty organize food and housing resources for older adult communities experiencing increased insecurity due to COVID-19. She also spends her free time talking with isolated nursing home residents through virtual social visits. Block will continue her nursing journey as a second-degree student at UW–Madison, with Schaper’s pin, reminding her of her legacy to come.