By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published July 19, 2012
As a young child, Dominican Sister Sharon McGuire decided that she either wanted to be a nun or a nurse. And for the last few decades, Sister McGuire has answered God’s call to both vocations, serving people in a medical and spiritual capacity as part of the Adrian Dominican order.
Celebrating her golden jubilee this year—50 years since she took her vows as a religious in the early 1960s—Sister McGuire continues to share her knowledge even after officially retiring. Residing locally in Georgia, she now teaches part-time for online courses offered by Walton University and has come to appreciate the online form of communication.
“I was really quite amazed because there is so much interaction online that you really get to know students quite well,” said Sister McGuire, who began her online teaching position nearly a year ago. “It surprised me, and that’s what I find satisfying about it.”
Sister McGuire is no stranger to education or to medicine. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla., a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Miami, and a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of San Diego, Sister McGuire has spent most of her religious life serving others as a nun and a nurse.
Caring for others has been important to Sister McGuire ever since she was young. Being exposed to the Adrian Dominican sisters as a child, the order left an indelible mark on the youngster and the call to join them grew stronger as she progressed through her early childhood education.
“Above all, it was the spirit of joy” that led her to the Adrian Dominicans, she said. “They are very happy, joyful, personable. They didn’t all walk alike. They didn’t all talk alike. They had their own individual personalities. That attracted me,” she said.
Throughout her career, her nursing practice has taken her from Florida to the Southwest. She focused on AIDS patients in the 1980s and worked to make an impact on the lives of underserved and undocumented patients in El Paso, Texas, and San Diego. In addition, she has served retired Adrian Dominican sisters at the Dominican Life Center in Adrian, Mich.
Her contact with migrant workers in Florida and in California is what really captured Sister McGuire’s heart. She said one of the reasons she wanted to pursue an education in nursing after joining the Adrian Dominicans was because she saw and experienced the health care needs of these immigrants.
“My heart is really with immigrants and migrants,” she said.
Along with her nursing, Sister McGuire has an extensive history in academics, both as a teacher and a student. She taught nursing students at the University of San Diego, as well as in more traditional settings such as elementary schools, middle schools and health care facilities.
But there was always something about nursing that piqued her interest. She remembers nurses that visited her school to type the blood of students when she was in second grade. The young McGuire was surprised by her fascination with watching them work.
“That experience inspired me because I wasn’t afraid,” she said. “I just have a bent towards the natural, biological sciences.”
Included among her many accomplishments are the nursing programs she helped to establish at the University of Texas at El Paso and Siena Heights University, a Catholic college founded by the Adrian Dominicans in the 1950s. She is a founding faculty member at Siena Heights, which this year created a new award, the Sister Sharon McGuire Academic Excellence Award, in recognition of her valuable contributions.