Alumni Profiles

Alumni Profiles

Students and Faculty Will Miss “Supernurse” Sue Appling

Susan Appling ’73, a longtime assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and nurse practitioner in the Breast Center of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, joined the newly created Women’s Disease Prevention and Research Center at Mercy Medical Center in early 2005.

Appling, affectionately called “Supernurse” by many of her students, is known for both her professional expertise and enthusiasm for teaching. Since joining the faculty of the School of Nursing in 1984, she has had the opportunity to work with students from the very beginning of their nursing education. Her students describe her energy as “contagious, making class interesting, fun, and exciting” and credit her for using “creative and interactive approaches to teaching.” Such praise from students has earned Appling the annual Excellence in Teaching Award six times and the inaugural 2004 Dean’s Teaching Award.

Martha N. Hill, dean of the School of Nursing, has known Appling as both a student and a teacher. “I enjoyed teaching Sue years ago when she was a Hopkins nursing student [as well as] working with [her] over the years,” she says. “Sue is a very special person to Johns Hopkins Nursing. She has trained more than 2,000 past and present students!”

Upon hearing of Appling’s departure, Anne Homer ’96 wrote to say Appling, “was realistic without being pessimistic, a quality which is altogether rare.” Thola Bennecoff Wolanski ’91 said, “I remember her fondly and do my best to emulate her teaching spirit whenever I mentor another nursing student in my unit.” At a party to celebrate her new position, colleagues gathered to “roast” Appling. They reminisced about their experiences with her, saying “We all want to be nurses like Sue,” and joking that now other faculty members will have a better chance at winning the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Future Hopkins Nursing students will continue to benefit from Appling’s wisdom and expertise in two ways: Appling remains at the School of Nursing as a part-time faculty member and a scholarship has been established in her honor. Donations to the Susan E. Appling Scholarship Fund may be made by check, payroll deduction, or with a five-year pledge for gifts over $2,500 and will be matched by an anonymous donor up to $100,000. For more information, contact Development and Alumni Relations at 410-955-4284.

Both Vee Hembrow-Gay ’59 and daughter, Catherine Hembrow, accelerated ’97, have fond memories of their time at Hopkins.

What a Difference 40 Years Can Make

Vee Hall Hembrow-Gay faced uncertainty after graduating from high school in the 1950s. “I didn’t know what to do. My mother had been ill for a very long time, and I had a friend who was an instructor at Hopkins. I wanted to continue my education, so I decided to become a nurse,” she recalls. The decision turned out to be the right one. “Coming to Hopkins was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me in my life,” she says today.

Vee’s daughter, Catherine Hembrow, had a slightly less direct path. She came to nursing after a short career in hotel management. “I didn’t look forward to getting up and going to work,”Catherine remembers. “I wanted a job that better fit my interests and abilities.” Since her early years, Catherine was good with science and with people.

Once she had made her decision to pursue nursing, Catherine applied to the country’s top five nursing schools–without telling her mother. Catherine didn’t break the news until she learned that she had been accepted to Johns Hopkins. “I was amazed when Catherine told me she was going into nursing,” says Vee. “Her father was a physician, so our dinner table conversations always centered around medicine. I thought she would have had her fill!”

Graduating almost 40 years apart, mother and daughter had very different experiences as nurses. “My mother’s program was a learning-by-doing program,” says Catherine. “When I came to Hopkins, we spent much less time on the floor and much more time with our books.”

Vee agrees that her program left her prepared to enter the workforce. “As students, we were sometimes responsible for a whole floor of patients with just a couple of aides to help us. When I graduated, there were some things I didn’t know, but nothing I couldn’t handle.” And Vee had a lot to handle with her first job in the emergency room and the recovery room at Johns Hopkins. She later moved to California.

Catherine began her nursing career at Johns Hopkins Hospital, working for one year on the same floor where she had completed her senior practicum. To be closer to her family, Catherine spent the next 18 months in orthopedics in San Francisco, but eventually came back to Johns Hopkins. Her most current position has been working with open heart surgery patients at Union Memorial Hospital.

As much as she loves Baltimore, Catherine is moving home to San Francisco yet again. She has not yet lined up a position in California, but she isn’t worried. “That’s one of the great things about nursing,” she says. “I just got my California license renewed, and I know I won’t have any problem finding a job when I get there.”

For her mother, one of the great things about nursing is the life lessons learned while at school. “The principles I learned in nursing school can be applied to the rest of my life,” says Vee. “It was at Hopkins that I learned how to economize time, energy, and material, how to care for someone without overwhelming them, how to bring out the best in people, and how to care for my community.”

Vee still uses these skills each day, as she sits on the Barton Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, and is helping to develop a parish nursing program for her community in South Lake Tahoe. “I just attended my 45th class reunion, and it seems like most of my classmates volunteer and help the community. I think it’s a credit to Hopkins that so many of its students continue to care about others, even doing unpaid volunteer work,” she says.

Despite all the differences of experience, mother and daughter do have similar memories. “I remember my time at Hopkins fondly,” says Catherine. “We worked very hard, and my classmates and I bonded tightly together in the face of a difficult experience.”

Vee is very proud of her daughter’s success. “I believe my daughter is an outstanding nurse, a better nurse than I.”



Tim Teeter, accelerated ’94, and his mom, Mae McDaniel Teeter ’49, both credit Hopkins for much of their success in nursing.

A Mom and Son Who Have Followed Their Dreams

As graduation approached in 1949, Anna D. Wolf, the superintendent of nurses at Johns Hopkins, had an independent conference with each nursing student. To each, she inquired, “What are your plans after graduation?” A young Mae McDaniel replied that she was committed to doing foreign medical mission work. The day after her graduation, Mae was asked the same question, this time by her suitor, Jimmy Teeter, as he proposed.

“When my mother graduated from school,” says Mae’s son Tim Teeter, “nurses were expected to marry, have a family, and work in a hospital. They were limited by society’s expectations of nurses.” In spite of societal norms, Mae held on to her dreams. She told her suitor that she was committed to traveling for mission work, and even submitted the application to journey to New Guinea. Not to be dissuaded, Jimmy Teeter cheerfully responded, “Well, then, we’ll just have to travel together!”

Like his mother, Tim Teeter did not let society’s expectations get in the way of his dreams. In the 1980s, Tim found himself in the middle of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, caring for sick friends and doing volunteer work in the community. As he lost an increasing number of friends, Tim grew determined to become directly involved in controlling the epidemic. Although nursing was still an unusual profession for a man to enter, for Tim, the decision made perfect sense.

“My mother has been a life-long inspiration and support for me,” says Tim. “She was very supportive when I told her I was applying to nursing school. I would not have ended up becoming a nurse without her.”
Attending Hopkins opened the doors to both mother and son to pursue their dreams. Although Mae did not go to New Guinea in 1949, she and her new husband were eventually able to launch their mission work. After working for one month at a hospital in the Ivory Coast in 1963, they continued to provide their services in remote parts of the world for a month or two each year until 2000.

After his graduation, Tim Teeter worked with HIV positive patients in both Baltimore and San Francisco. He has recently returned to Baltimore, and is currently the nursing supervisor in the Moore Clinic, the outpatient unit supervised by the Hopkins AIDS Service.

Although their experiences were very different, both mother and son attribute much of their success to Hopkins. “I think that Hopkins provides an excellent structure for learning and relies on the internal motivation of its students,” says Tim Teeter. “When you put these together, you end up with very successful students.”


The first father/son graduates of the school, Herb ’71 (L) and Matthew Zinder ’99, faced challenges during their training.

Father and Son Pioneers

Herb Zinder remembers almost quitting nursing school in 1968. He was the first man accepted into the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, during a time, he says, “when it was part of the culture that nursing was a woman’s field.” The challenges seemed insurmountable at times, but he endured.

More than 30 years later, Zinder returned to Hopkins to watch his son, Matthew, graduate from his alma mater. On that graduation day in 1999, Matthew and his dad became the School of Nursing’s first father/son alumni.

After serving in the Air Force as an anesthesia technician, Herb Zinder knew he wanted to make a career of working with patients and anesthesia. Nursing school seemed to be the way to achieve his goal, so he walked into the school’s admissions office saying, “I want to go to school here at Hopkins.”

From the beginning, Herb’s presence in the nursing school presented challenges to the school’s administration. “I remember on the first day of school there was an orientation that included a parents’ meeting,” he says. “My wife went. The School of Nursing didn’t quite know how to deal with me, and I didn’t really know how to deal with them.”
Nevertheless, Herb Zinder did well in his studies and became certified as a nurse anesthetist after he graduated. He worked in a hospital setting for 11 years, and then decided to start his own business. Zinder Anesthesia Associates has been flourishing ever since.

By the 1990s, when Matthew Zinder was attempting to pursue a career in photography, society had become more accepting of men in nursing. When Matt experienced difficulty finding adequate work as a photographer, he talked to his dad about the problem. Herb Zinder suggested that his son follow in his footsteps.

Although Matt got the idea of becoming a nurse from his father, his interest in nursing came from his time working as an EMT. Matt applied and was accepted to several nursing schools, among them Johns Hopkins. “My dad was as happy as I was when my acceptance letter from Hopkins’ School of Nursing arrived in the mail,” recalls Matt.

Although his gender was not as big of an impediment for the younger Zinder, he had his own obstacles to overcome at nursing school. “Going from art to science was a culture shock,” he says. “The small classes and personal relationships with my instructors at Hopkins helped me make it through.”
After graduation, Matt Zinder went on to receive his master’s degree in nurse anesthesia in December 2003. After gaining a couple of years of valuable experience at the Chippenham Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, Matt plans to return home to work for Zinder Anesthesia Associates.

“I am thrilled that we are the school’s first father/son alums,” says Herb Zinder. “But the important thing is that we both feel we made the right decisions for ourselves. I am proud Matt took some of the same chances I did. The experience has really brought us closer together.”

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