What I’ve learned from Bonnie Sowers

by Taryn M. Hernandez (Wallace), Senior

It was my first campus visit ever. I was excited, but nervous. That day, I had to meet the Director of Nursing Education, Bonnie Sowers. In my head I was thinking, “What is she going to think of me? Am I ready for nursing school? Do I have what it takes?” As soon as I met Bonnie, all the fears melted away with her warm, welcoming smile. After sitting and visiting with her for a few minutes, I knew that this would be the school I attend for my nursing degree.

What I immediately learned from Bonnie Sowers is how to carry oneself with class, neatness, poise, and tact.

What I learned from her throughout the two years of nursing school is how to be an excellent leader.

Though I learned too many things to count, those are among the most important to me.

Not only did Bonnie teach marvelously and carry herself with elegance, she also was always there for her students. Any question, any time, anything; she was there.

Bonnie Sowers has touched many, many students’, teachers’, and people’s lives with her kind heart.

         “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” – Judy Blume

Bonnie, I wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors.


Bonnie Sowers at her farewell reception last year. Photo by Larry Bartel, Hesston College Marketing and Communications


by Becky Bartell, Director of Nursing Education

“I can find my way home from here.” This is the title of a small story Bonnie left for me on my first day in the office as Nursing Education Director. The story is an excerpt from author Anne Lamott about a little girl who was lost and could find nothing familiar. The girl is then found by a police officer. The police officer is driving her around trying to locate something familiar to the little girl when she sees her church and tells him, “You can let me out now. This is my church, and I can always find my way home from here.” I have heard Bonnie say many times how Hesston’s nursing students find a home at Hesston College.

Bonnie leaves a 40 plus year legacy at Hesston College. In those 40 plus years, Bonnie has helped countless students, faculty, and staff find a home at Hesston College. The most important lesson I have learned from Bonnie is to be welcoming and make those around you feel at home. Bonnie leads by example and shows kindness and grace to all those she encounters. Her personality exudes warmth and a gentle spirit.  

Over the last several years, I began to ask Bonnie what sort of magic she had because everyone left her office smiling and feeling good even after difficult conversations. I remember being on a conference call with Bonnie and several other faculty members this past summer. We were seeking advice on how to handle a student situation from an outside source whom we had never met. The woman on the other end of the line said, “Bonnie, I think you should handle this difficult part of the conversation, I can tell by your voice how sweet you are.” I looked at Bonnie and knew that her magic could even be felt through the phone line.

I have heard countless stories of students who have experienced Bonnie’s welcoming spirit. Many students talk about meeting Bonnie as a prospective student and knowing after that meeting that Hesston College Nursing was the place for them.  This is just another example of Bonnie’s magic touch.

The success of the nursing program over the years can be attributed to a wonderful team of faculty and staff led by Bonnie. Bonnie poured her heart and soul into this nursing program and made each student feel at home. Bonnie recently accompanied the development team and President Manickam to Indiana to meet with alumni and friends of the college for the capital campaign. One of the team members later commented to me how incredible it was that Bonnie could recognize faces and remember names of students from 30 years ago. This is just another example of Bonnie caring for each student individually and hearing and remembering their stories.

Bonnie’s magic is no magic at all. Rather, it is simply Bonnie Sower’s spirit to take time to listen, affirm, and recognize each person as a child of God and help them find a home at Hesston College. 


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