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Marquette University Alumni Association

College of Nursing Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumna in Service to Nursing Award


NURS '80


From delivering advanced nursing care to enhancing the understanding of processes and treatments related to care, Sharon considers it a privilege to care for critically ill children and their families.

“Children are resilient,” she says. “They constantly give me encouragement to work harder, understand more and do the very best I can as part of the team caring for them.”

Sharon has been a nurse for more than 30 years and a pediatric critical care nurse practitioner for more than 19 of them.

She is a member of the standing faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and a pediatric critical care nurse practitioner at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she is involved in nutrition research for this vulnerable population.

She recently traveled to Kenya, where she conducted a health clinic for children in a rural village.

“For many, it was the first time they had been seen by a health care professional,” Sharon says. “The gratefulness of the people and joy on the faces of the children again reinforced for me why I am a nurse. More important, the experience uncovered my desire to become more involved in humanitarian pediatric health care efforts in this country and globally.”

In her career, Sharon has been director of a mobile inner-city asthma program, director of a pediatric critical care inpatient nurse practitioner program, and project manager for a large National Institute of Health-funded clinical trial and a multisite Centers for Disease Control-funded study.

Get to Know: Dr. Sharon Y. Irving

Hometown:  New York City 

Someone past or present she’d like to have dinner with: United States President Barack Obama and wife, Michelle

The Marquette faculty or staff member who had a great impact on her:  Sarah Ford, director of the Multicultural Cente. She always had an ear, always gave encouragement and made the MCC a safe haven and a place to go for friendship, camaraderie and solace in the tumultuous 1970s.

Most influential in Sharon’s life: A woman she met while living in Milwaukee and attending Marquette – Mrs. Emma Johnson, she was the first nurse she met who was a Black woman, didn’t wear a white uniform, but was the consummate professional nurse.