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Mack takes over JDCC nursing post

Following in the steps of two “visionaries,” Susan Mack knows she has some big shoes to fill.

Six years ago, Mack joined the faculty for the nursing department at Jefferson Davis Communty College. Just last month, the instructor changed positions when she was named director of nursing and allied health at the college.

“I’m excited about this opportunity but I know I have some big shoes to fill,” Mack said. “Following behind visionaries like Norma Hammac and Ann Mantel won’t be easy.”

Mack was named to the position in July following the retirement of Mantel, who served as director of nursing at the college for nine years. Hammac retired as director of nursing in 2000 after having taught at the college since 1974.

“They were both wonderful instructors and directors for the nursing program here at JD,” Mack said. “I was actually a student of Ann’s in this program.”

Mack graduated with her nursing degree in 1980 and feels her time as an instructor, and now director of nursing, is her opportunity to make a difference for others.

“This is my time to give back,” Mack said. “This is my community and I want to do my part in educating the students that are going to be taking care of my family and friends for a long time.”

Mack received her masters degree in nursing in 1999 and worked in the field of nursing for many years before becoming a teacher to those hoping to enter the field.

“I was a nurse for 20 years before I decided I wanted to teach,” Mack said. “I began teaching in the nursing program at Pensacola Junior College and taught there for 14 years. Becoming a part of the nursing department’s faculty at JD has been a wonderful experience and I’m happy to be here. Moving into the director’s position is a dream I’m now living.”

That dream job is one Mack had hoped to have for many years and, she said, it’s one she knows has had great timing in her life.

“I had always had the goal of doing something like this when I got older,” Mack said. “I’m really excited about this position at this point in my life. It’s really a good time for me and for the program.”

Melinda Happoldt, secretary in the nursing and allied health department at JD, said Mack’s appointment to the position is one she is looking forward to in the coming years.

“She (Mack) is going to do a wonderful job in this position,” Happoldt said. “She is all about the students. She is a very giving and supportive person and will do what is in the best interest of the students. She is going to be a very positive part of the nursing program for JD students.”

Mack said coming into the position after Mantel’s retirement has the program in a very good position.

“I’m very lucky to be following in the footsteps of Ann (Mantel). She was able to acquire some wonderful equipment and simulators for this program. I’m lucky enough to be the one to get to incorporate those things into the program.”

Mack said Mantel’s acquisition of life-like simulators will enhance the program beyond anything previously imagined for JD nursing students.

“These simulators are like real patients,” Mack said. “They breathe, have a pulse and can be programmed to respond to certain labs, chemicals and procedures. This equipment will benefit nursing students for years to come because of Ann’s work on acquiring it.”

Mack’s move to the directors position left one vacancy in the roster of instructors in the Jefferson Davis nursing department.

“Right now we have five instructors going back into the classroom for the upcoming session,” Mack said. “We now have one open spot and we’ll be filling that position as soon as possible.”

Classes in the nursing program resume Aug. 16 with dozens of new students, Mack said.

“We have 32 new students in the program for the upcoming semester,” Mack said. “That puts our total number of students in the program at JD at around 195. Those students are split into classes that are held on the Brewton and Atmore campuses.”

Mack said she isn’t sure what the future holds for her, but he hopes to be seen on the campuses of Jefferson Davis Community College for years to come.

“This is something I’ve always wanted,” Mack said. “My hope is to keep at this until I retire.”