100-year-old retired nurse helps minorities pursuing profession

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

GEORGETOWN, SC (WCSC) - A woman with a big dream as a little girl of becoming a nurse is now hoping to inspire others at 100 years old. She is helping to advance the profession, especially for minorities, at a time when registered nurses are in need.

Inez Keith was in the third grade when she had a dream of becoming a nurse.

"I had a dream one night as a child, quite young, and it grew in me that I was going to do that, because I didn't want to do anything else but be a nurse," Mrs. Inez Keith Carolina said.

She spent her early years in Georgetown, and then she became one of three black women to graduate from McClennan Banks Hospital Nursing School in Charleston, back in 1936.

"I felt happy because I was doing something for people other sick people. When someone said to me give me a glass of water, do this and do that. I would give water. I would attend to them and do everything that I could," Mrs. Carolina said.

She was married and became Inez Carolina. She now spends many hours with family, sharing her stories of 37 years in the profession, working in Charleston, New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. before retiring.

Back in 1963 she was there as Dr. Martin Luther King shared his famous speech.

Now after celebrating her 100th birthday, Carolina has a new dream, of helping minorities become nurses by donating a scholarship to the United Negro College Fund.

"Her family gave her sheets, clothing, bed linens, and she figured if she could be the beneficiary of those minor things, she could contribute books, so she started the scholarship through UNCF," her son James Carolina said.

"People helped me and when I was able, I would help them. I wanted to help people in the world," Carolina said.

Money from Carolina's UNCF scholarship will help pay for books or other needs of nursing students. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing says the down economy has helped ease the nursing shortage temporarily, but the projected shortage is still around 135,000 nurses nationwide.

You have the opportunity to support the United Negro College Fund, the same organization Carolina has generously supported by attending the 9th annual "Taste of Charleston: Men Who Cook."

The fundraiser is set for Sunday, Jan. 30 from 3 until 6 p.m., at Trident Tech. Proceeds benefit the UNCF, and you can sample some delicious food, prepared by the men of Charleston.

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