Jean Sanders Hopkins

Nurses often touch the lives of their patients with their expert knowledge, kind words, and empathetic gestures. Jean Sanders Hopkins is an example of such a nurse. She was born in Lykesland, S.C. on April 19, 1931, and grew up in the Waverly and Saxon Homes communities of Columbia. From her youth to her devoted career in nursing, she has always been a high achiever and a firm believer in excellence and accomplishment. Hopkins has more than 30 years of professional nursing experience. She retired from her position as Assistant Chief of Nursing at Columbia’s Dorn Veterans Administration Hospital in 1993, after working at several other hospitals and healthcare facilities in South Carolina and Georgia. Not content to rest after her retirement, she continues to share her nursing skills. Hopkins is a board member of the Palmetto Health Alliance, an at-large member of the Board of Trustees of Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital, and Director of Health Services at Allen University. In addition, she serves as a substitute nurse in Richland County School District One. Her background also includes past employment as a senior public health nurse with the S. C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, and a nursing instructor at South Carolina State University. Hopkins received her registered nursing (R.N.) diploma in 1953, from the then-segregated Columbia Hospital School of Nursing, and her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of South Carolina (USC) in 1976. Since then, she has earned numerous education credits at USC and has facilitated and/or attended a variety of nursing-related workshops, seminars and conferences around the United States. In 1997, Hopkins was a member of the inaugural Amy V. Cockcroft Nursing Leadership Development Class. As her final project, she produced a video, “Let Everybody Listen to a Nurse,” a five-minute program highlighting nurses’ influence on the community. Health issues facing African Americans have motivated Hopkins to promote positive projects. She is a co-founder of the Greater Columbia Council on the Prevention of Teenage Pregnancy. She also is a participant in numerous health awareness seminars, blood pressure appraisals, and Sickle Cell Anemia screenings throughout the community. Complementing her role as a nurse, Hopkins has authored and co-authored several publications on healthcare and nursing practice. These include the highly acclaimed article, “Cultural Diversity in Nursing Practice,” and “Teenage Sexuality—Risky,” co-authored with Delores Roberts. She also initiated the format for The Memoirs of Sadie F. Nickpeay, which chronicles the life of an African American nurse midwife in South Carolina. Hopkins co-authored, with several other nursing professionals, an article titled “A Community Health Promotion Partnership Model: The South Carolina Health Connection,” which was published in the Fall 2001 edition of The Journal of Cultural Diversity. Also in 2001, Hopkins’ portrait was added to the mural of the USC School of Nursing. The mural outlines the school’s history and highlights outstanding nursing professionals. Mrs. Hopkins has received many awards, including having her image depicted on the Columbia Housing Authority’s 1989 Wall of Fame; a 1995 Trumpeter Gala Award; 1995 Distinguished Service Award from the National Council of Negro Women; 1998 Nurse of the Year from Chi Eta Phi, Inc., Delta Eta Chapter; and 2002 TWIN Diamond Award Winner for Community Service from the YWCA of the Midlands. Hopkins also was named Woman of the Year by the South Carolina Conference of Branches, NAACP; and the 2003 recipient of the Helen S. Miller Award from the Delta Eta Chapter of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the United Black Fund of the Midlands, Inc., a life member of the NAACP, as well as a life member of the National Council of Negro Women. An accomplishment she is especially proud of is having one of her articles included in “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants,” Stories of Nurses by Nurses, Center for American Nurses, 2004. In 2004, she was named a member of the board of the Renaissance Foundation, whose goal is to determine the usage of the historic Bethel A.M.E. Church in Columbia. Hopkins has received letters and certificates of appreciation from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. for her support of the HIV/AIDS International Day of Service, “Know Your Status” campaign; the Palmetto Project’s Heart and Soul Program for assistance with Blood Pressure Training; the Epilepsy Foundation of South Carolina; Burton Pack Elementary School; and the Community Services Advisory Council from the Richland County Community Outreach Office of Wateree Community Actions. She also received a Certificate of Recognition from Richland County School District One for 100 days of service as a substitute nurse for the 2001-2002 school year. In 2000, Mrs. Hopkins was among seven South Carolina women honored with the Woman of Achievement Award from the Governor’s Commission on Women. She also received acknowledgement from the Palmetto Health Alliance for serving as a director since its inception through December 2000. In 1999, the Sigma Theta Tau Alumni Association presented the USC Outstanding Nurse Alumnae Award to Hopkins for her significant contributions to the nursing profession. Additionally, she has been featured in many statewide and local publications, including The State, which profiled her in its “Living Here” section in an article titled “Women of Excellence.” In 2002, Hopkins was featured in the following newspapers: SC Black News, The Carolina Panorama, and The New Survey. That year she also was featured in the Center for American Nursing Magazine. In 2007, Ms. Hopkins received The March of Dimes Living the Legacy Award; she was also a 2007 recipient of the Heroes in The Field of Award.  In the fall of 2006, she was instrumental in establishing the Sarah Allen Section of the National Council of Negro Women at Allen University and served that same year as the guest speaker for the Columbia School of Nursing Renaissance Program. In addition, Ms. Hopkins spearheaded a joint venture between the United Black Fund of the Midlands Inc, and the Renaissance Foundation Cultural Arts Center creating a partnership to assist with identifying a permanent home for the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame. She serves on several boards and is a member of several organizations to include the National Council of Negro Women, Life Membership, she is a lifetime member of the NAACP, James R. Clark Sickle Cell Anmenia Foundation, Booker T. Washington Foundation Board of Directors, Columbia Housing Authority Advisory Board, Columbia Housing Authority Wall of Fame Selection Committee, Columbia Housing Authority Wall of Fame Honorees, Inc., National Youth Sports Program Advisory Board, Ladies Auxiliary Post 4262, Life Membership, Wateree Community Actions, Inc., Advisory Board and the Caring Alternative Advisory Board. Hopkins serves as a role model for others by enhancing the image of nurses as competent professionals. One of her favorite sayings is, “If your mind can conceive it, if your heart can believe it, then you can achieve it.” Always stressing good healthcare, Hopkins admonishes, “In order to be truly successful, one must first be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. “She is a very involved member of Chappelle Memorial A.M.E. Church and an active resident and participant in Columbia’s Eau Claire community.