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Monday Motivation with Mary Eliza Mahoney

Breaking Ground

Mary Eliza Mahoney’s interest in nursing began as a teenager. When Mahoney began working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, she initially did not work as a nurse. Instead, she held positions that included cook, janitor, washerwoman and an unofficial nurse’s aide – all over a 15-year period. At age 33 Mahoney entered the 16-month nursing program at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. The long shifts (5:30am - 9:30pm) and rigorous workload proved too tough for all but four of the 42 students – Mahoney being one of them who successfully made it through the program. She received her nursing certification in 1879, making her the first African American in history to earn a professional nursing license. In retirement, Mahoney was still concerned with women's equality and a strong supporter of women's suffrage. She actively participated in the advancement of civil rights in the United States. In 1920, after women's suffrage was achieved in the U.S., Mahoney was among the first women in Boston to register to vote.

Mahoney's Legacy

Mary Eliza Mahoney was an advocate for women and nurses everywhere. She was resilient on her path to becoming a nurse. She humbly held roles at the hospital until she was accepted into the nursing program. Mary Mahoney served as a role model for nurses that while the road to being nurse may be grueling, it is indeed possible.

" Work more and better the coming year than the previous year."

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