UAA Alumni Profile: Joan Diamond, B.S. Nursing '79

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Anchorage is a safer place because of Joan Diamond. This energetic, think-outside-the-box nursing alumna dedicated her career to improving the public health of the Anchorage community.

UAA alumni Joan DiamondJoan was born in the Midwest, but spent most of her childhood in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from UCLA in 1971 with a degree in counseling and psychology, and shortly after moved to Alaska with her college sweetheart. "I was a misfit," Joan said. "I never fit in to the Southern California lifestyle."

Her beau came north to fish and bought Joan a one-way airline ticket to join him. The couple settled in Homer. After her relationship with her college boyfriend ended, Joan, not ready to leave Alaska, packed her belongings and moved to Anchorage. Most young women in their early '20s in a strange place with no connections would race home, but Joan fell in love with Alaska and was ready for an adventure.

She got a job working in child protection, and met her future husband, who was busy building a 44-foot sailboat. After getting married and a few years working in social work, Joan decided it was time to return to school to continue her education. Her family's medical background led her to enroll in the UAA School of Nursing. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 1979, one of the School's first graduating classes. She and her classmates earned the highest scores in the nation on their nursing board exams.

"I was so qualified when I graduated," she said. "The program prepared me for a variety of health care areas. Now, 30 years later, I can still call on my education from UAA."

Many nursing graduates end up going from the classroom to a hospital setting, but not Joan. "Nursing is a medical model," Joan said. "Nurses treat one patient at a time, but I was interested in prevention and treating the population as a whole." Joan, a square peg in a round hole, knew that she didn't belong in a traditional nursing setting, and set off on a fulfilling career in public health. Read more.

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