For Anna Gerac (’68), the leadership skills developed as an undergraduate nursing student laid the foundation for a lifetime devoted to helping others around the world. With her beneficiary designation to establish the Anna Louise Gerac Endowed Scholarship in Nursing, she hopes to encourage future generations of leaders where her success began – her alma mater.
Gerac’s time at then-University of Southwestern Louisiana was more than an education. It was comprised of personal growth, camaraderie among nursing students, and faculty mentorship, and it inspired her to give back to those who helped her reach her dreams.
Early on in her undergraduate years, Gerac enjoyed being in a clinical setting, learning how to speak with patients and take vital signs. As president of her class and the Louisiana Association of Student Nurses (LASN), she excelled as a student leader and helped increase LASN membership to over 300 students through her inspirational weekend visits to other state nursing schools.
Gerac joined the Army Nurses Corp during her junior year and was stationed in California after passing the boards. In 1969 she was sent to the 249th General Hospital at Camp Drake in Asaka, Japan, caring for injured Vietnam War servicemen as she balanced the mental toll of the soldiers’ brutal wounds and staying positive while communicating with family and friends via mailed cassette tapes.
After a subsequent post in Louisiana, she then returned to California to work at Stanford University Hospital and pursue a master’s in nursing at the University of California at San Francisco. She also exercised her entrepreneurial ambition to become an “inn-sitter” overseeing day-to-day operations of inns across the western United States while the owners vacationed.
Her nursing work and personal travels led to adventures in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kenya, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and France, where she found her ancestral relatives in a remote Bordeaux village with help from a printed translation by UL Lafayette faculty. After working at Vermont Technical College for 11 years, she retired as Director of Nursing Education Programs.
Even with so much success, her gratefulness shines through. “I feel lucky to be able to give back through this planned gift, especially since the University was a gift to me.” For those who are considering giving to the University, Gerac encourages them to reflect on what led to their success.
She looks forward to this scholarship helping individuals in need, especially those who exhibit leadership but may not have full financial resources. She hopes it can inspire them to give more and become an asset to the profession.