Major Spotlight: Nursing

Sylvia Mayer grew up a few minutes away from Southern. Her mom taught nursing and her dad taught math and science at Collegedale Academy. She herself graduated with an AS and BS in Nursing when Southern was still called Southern Missionary College. Professor Mayer then got her Master of Science in Nursing with two specialties: Community Health and Nursing Education. 

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  • How long have you worked as a professor at Southern?

    I have had the happy privilege of being a nursing faculty at Southern Missionary College, Southern College of Seventh-day Adventists, and Southern Adventist University! Reality... I taught Community Health Nursing from 1981–1984. Then I was away for 20 years but returned in 2004. I just completed 13 years, and this fall starts my 14th year since returning to Southern.

  • Why did you choose nursing?

    Many of the typical reasons I hear every day. I wanted to (1) help people, (2) be in a field with a variety of work opportunities, (3) complete higher education in the field, and (4) teach.

  • How has the nursing profession changed through the years?

    Three things: patients are much sicker in the hospital—more critical conditions, hospital stays are shorter but more intense, and much more outpatient care and surgery.

  • What are some qualifications prospective nursing majors must have?

    You must have the heart for service. It is a calling to care, to serve God through the ministry of healing.

    It is best to have good student skills, too: to carefully plan and execute study plans, access resources and monitor each class for success. Last but not least you have to have GRIT, which is defined by Angela Duckworth as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

  • What advice would you give to those considering taking nursing?

    Put God first. “Study to show yourself approved by God.” You will be serving Him as a nurse. Nursing and nursing school is hard work. Are you willing to do the job? Read (digging deeper), ask questions, avail yourself of the helping resources (ASAP... our internal learning support), do NCLEX prep along the way, and meet with your teacher after tests.

  • Any last thoughts?

    Nursing has been good to me! I have worked full-time and other times part-time or very little while staying home with small children. I have discovered over time that I enjoy working with people to solve problems creatively... to smooth the way no matter the area of nursing or life. Nursing has provided the many opportunities that have kept me interested and intellectually stimulated, provided a variety of roles, given leadership opportunities, and enabled me to have a mission/service that fits me.

    Now, as Director of Admissions and Progressions for Nursing, I use these same skills to work with students and families who are interested in nursing or to help smooth the way for students in the nursing program. The service and mission emphases of the university and School of Nursing provide the structure and support to continue to serve others. It is my daily prayer that I will “see” with God’s eyes and “touch” all those in my area of influence with His care and heart. I believe (with God’s help) that I can impact the care of many, many patients through the loving care our graduates will provide in the years to come. Yes... I am still a nurse!

To learn more about the School of Nursing, contact Sylvia Mayer at or schedule an academic appointment through the Campus Visit office.

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Southern Adventist University Admissions Story by Southern Adventist University Admissions Published: Last Edited:

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