Students Honor Professor with New Scholarship

Dr. Lark Ford with Student

When Kendra Mack-Semler, BSN Class of 2021, and her then fellow classmates heard that Lark A. Ford, PhD, MA, MSN, RN, associate professor/clinical, was talking about retiring from the School of Nursing at UT Health San Antonio, the students started discussing what they could do to honor their teacher and thank her for everything she taught them during their Foundations courses.

“Everyone in my cohort decided we wanted to do something in her honor. And, that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. It was before she became a leader in the school’s COVID efforts,” said Mack-Semler, referring to Dr. Ford’s work first in leading the on-campus COVID screening program and later serving as director of the nursing school’s state-approved vaccine hub.

As the volunteer coordinator of the Clinical Service Distinction Program, Mack-Semler organized students’ clinical experience and worked with faculty who were needed at each site. “Dr. Ford would always agree to be the faculty member. And, if she was busy and couldn’t do it, she would find another faculty member. She always went above and beyond what was expected of her,” she said. “Dr. Ford is the epitome of a strong woman and an outstanding nurse leader.”

Mack-Semler, who considers Dr. Ford a professional and personal mentor, said the nursing students decided they wanted to do more than a plaque or a bench on campus. “We agreed that creating a scholarship in her name would be the perfect way to honor her. This scholarship will honor her legacy of teaching and her dedication to nursing.”

Prior to coming to the School of Nursing in 2006, Dr. Ford retired as a Colonel with 33 years of military service in the United States Army Nurse Corps.

The Dr. Lark Ford Nursing Excellence Scholarship in honor of Mable C. and David Ford will support first-generation undergraduate nursing students who demonstrate financial need. Preference will be given to students with a military affiliation. This will honor Dr. Ford’s legacy as a model interprofessional educator, beloved nursing mentor, and consummate proponent of nursing excellence.

Dr. Ford said she was humbled when told about the students’ plans to create a scholarship in her name. “I was touched that the nursing students initiated this scholarship,” she said. “You always hope you touch one student’s life, but this shows that I’ve touched more lives.”

Mack-Semler and the other students embody what it means to be a nurse. “They want to give back and help the community be healthy. We were first together to provide flu vaccine clinics on campus and in the community, and later we all helped provide COVID-19 vaccines to community members.”

Dr. Ford said she decided to honor her parents with the scholarship because “I am who I am because of my parents. I lost both of them when I was in my 20s and in the military. My father was one of the first African American Pullman porters (train conductors), and my mom was a model image of a mother who also served her community.”

Her parents ingrained in her the importance of being a good citizen by serving others. “I couldn’t think of anyone who I love more to honor this way. Their memories will remain alive because of this scholarship,” she said. “I can’t thank the students enough. They are our future. We have a great future for nursing because of them. I feel very safe and secure with them as our nurse leaders.”

In order to be able to start awarding the scholarship to a deserving student, the fund must reach $10,000. Mack-Semler encourages nursing graduates, especially those taught by Dr. Ford over the past 15 years, to consider donating any amount to help them reach this goal.

To give please go to:

Written by: Catherine Duncan

Article Categories: Faculty Spotlight