certain, she has come full circle—as Glen Oaks is where it all began.
Pam Carrel, instructor of nursing, has been selected as the recipient of the 2015-16 E. J. Shaheen
Teaching Excellence Award. The announcement of the award was made by Glen Oaks President David
Devier during the 47th Glen Oaks graduation ceremony on May 8.
In 1977 her father became ill with colon cancer during her senior year of high school and she stepped
into the role of caregiver along with her mother.
When Carrel enrolled at Glen Oaks Community College in 1978 she was set on becoming a marching
band director. She played the flute, piano, studied music and was in the Glen Oaks band.
The following Christmas after her father died, Carrel received a white sweater, a watch with a second
hand, and a Glen Oaks Community College catalog as a gift from her mother. “You are going to be a
nurse,” said her mother. “I saw how you took care of your father with so much compassion and
There was “no fighting with my mother,” said Carrel, who started taking nursing courses at the college.
It was there that she met Barbara Timby, professor of nursing, who eventually became quite an
influence on her.
“Over the years, I have called Mrs. Timby for advice regarding nursing education,” she said. “She
always took my calls and has given me encouragement and positive advice.”
Carrel graduated with her LPN from Glen Oaks in December, 1979. She transferred to Southwest
Michigan College to obtain her Associate’s Degree in Nursing, as Glen Oaks didn’t offer the program at
Upon receiving her associate’s degree, Carrel began working as a staff nurse at Three Rivers Health
where she worked for seven years, followed by employment at a long-term care facility in the area.
She eventually became a nurse consultant at a pharmacy located in Kalamazoo.
“I went back to Three Rivers Health in 2006,” said Carrel. “In order for me to continue to work in
intensive care, I needed training in advanced cardiac life support. This put me back in ‘study mode.’ I
ended up enrolling at Goshen College and spent two years in the RN to BSN program while working at
“I turned in a transcultural paper,” said Carrel, “and when it was graded and returned, there was a
note at the top of the paper hand-written from my professor that said, ‘You need to get your master’s
degree in nursing.’ ”
“Receiving a master degree in nursing at Goshen College was one of the best experiences of my life,”
she said. “The core values resonated on who I wanted to be as a nurse.”
“Meanwhile, I received a call from Karen Ganger, director of the Nursing program at the college,” said
Carrel. “She wanted me to teach clinicals. At the time I was working and attending school, but I agreed
to teaching the clinicals.”
“This was my first exposure to teaching and was quite the revelation,” said Carrel. “I found a new
passion in helping students with their first exposure to patients.”
Carrel later received her Diabetes Education Certificate and found that she liked teaching people how
to manage their diabetes. Although she really enjoyed the whole teaching experience, Carrel wasn’t
sure how she would end up using it.
And then an opportunity at Glen Oaks opened up in 2012. “I applied for a nursing instructor position
and when I went to the interview, I immediately recognized several people on the interview team as
they had been my nursing instructors from 30 years prior. Barbara Timby was one of them, as well as
Joanne Purlee, professor of nursing . I remember seeing Barb and Joanne and it put me right at ease.
The interview became more of a conversation.”
“I was offered the position and I accepted, knowing well that I was at ‘home,’—this was my calling and
Glen Oaks was my nursing family.
Today, Carrel teaches Fundamentals of Nursing, Pediatric Nursing and Maternity Nursing. “I feel like I
have met my niche, and I don’t want to be anywhere else,” she said.
Carrel is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, an honor society of nursing and the American Association of
Diabetic Educators. She is married with two grown children, loves to knit and she still enjoys playing
the flute. She and her husband reside in Three Rivers, Michigan.
The E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching and Excellence Award was initiated in 1984 with a generous
donation from E. J. Shaheen, one of the original Glen Oaks Board members. Shaheen, a college
professor, lawyer and business owner, placed a high value on education and spent much of his later
life promoting high quality education and educational institutions, including Glen Oaks.