News Releases

Two Lander nursing instructors earn doctorates within weeks of each other

January 25, 2013
Liz McDowell
Liz McDowell

Holisa Wharton
Two members of Lander University's nursing faculty received doctoral degrees in 2012, and they agree it would have been impossible to successfully complete the demanding curriculum and study requirements without  the support and encouragement of their families.

Holisa Wharton, of Abbeville, and Liz McDowell, of Greenville, are assistant professors in Lander's William Preston Turner School of Nursing. They are the fifth and sixth members of the school's current faculty with doctorates.

Wharton described her degree as "a family Ph.D." Her husband, Calvin, was a stay-at-home dad for four years while she taught at Lander, attended classes and studied, caring for their three daughters, ages 13, 11 and 9. In fact, he returned to work soon after she received her degree.

A nurse for 13 years, Wharton joined the Lander faculty in the summer of 2011. She graduated from Wofford College with a biology degree and received her bachelor's in nursing from the University of South Carolina Upstate. She has a master's from Clemson University where she received her Ph.D. in health care genetics, one of only two students accepted into that new degree program. 

Wharton is the first member of her family to go to college and she is especially proud that she was the only black woman in many of her doctoral study classes.

Wharton has a special interest in hereditary cancer, especially
prostate cancer, which has affected several men in her family. In addition to teaching, she plans to continue her research on prostate cancer among black men, whose mortality rate from the disease is twice the average of whites. 
She holds a part-time position as a medical-surgical nurse at Self Regional Healthcare and teaches medical-surgical nursing at Lander.

Wharton said, "I have the best of both worlds because I take care of hospital patients directly and care for even more patients through my students as they perform their clinical nursing requirements." She added, "My students are an extension of me."

Liz McDowell joined Lander's nursing faculty in the summer of 2012, three months after receiving her doctorate from Vanderbilt University.  Early in her career, she received a nursing diploma and worked in clinical nursing at Greenville General Hospital, later to become Greenville Memorial Hospital. 

She has four children and five grandchildren. In 1996, at the urging of her daughter, McDowell resumed her education, and mother and daughter were in college at the same time. Her daughter later obtained a law degree.

McDowell received a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of South Carolina in 2000. Later, after experiencing a call to the ministry, she obtained a master's of divinity degree from Vanderbilt. While not an ordained minister, she periodically presides at weddings and funerals at her church, St. James Episcopal Church in Greenville.

McDowell taught nursing at ECPI University in Greenville for four years while she finishing her doctoral dissertation. Earlier, she spent 10 years with the S.C. Department of Corrections in psychiatric and mental health nursing, which she described as her passion. She also worked for four years in a state program whose patients were individuals who had been found not guilty of crimes by reason of insanity.

Medical-surgical nursing, trends in nursing and nursing research are among the courses McDowell teaches at Lander, and most of her students are first year nursing students. She said she enjoys their reactions to learning something new, and values their feedback and hearing fresh, new ideas.  She added, "I love teaching."