By Mallory Graves
Staff reporter

Melinda Current, professor of health and wellness promotion, has been teaching at Southwestern for 17 years.

She grew up in Arkansas City, not too far from Winfield.

She graduated from high school in 1978 and did her first year of college in her hometown.

“I did my first year at Cowley and then I went to nursing school at Wesley Medical Center,” Current said. “It was a hospital-based diploma program. I got my RN, but I didn’t get my bachelor’s degree. Then after about ten years, I went back to get my bachelor’s degree here at Southwestern. I took classes for two years here and there part time.”

Current graduated with her bachelor’s degree from Southwestern in 1992. After that, she got her master’s degree in nursing from Wichita State University.

In 2014, Current finished up her doctorate in health science through Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

“It was great being in Florida while finishing up my doctorate,” Current said. “It was all online and it was the most fun that I had during all my years of school. My experience made the coursework really meaningful to me.”

When in Florida, it is hard to solely focus on just school work.

“We tended to work hard in the daytime and go off without work in the evening,” Current said. “It was nice to get out and have some fun.”

After finishing school in Florida, Current ended up back in her hometown.

“I returned home and started teaching at a Licensed Practical Nurse Program in Cowley County which was a satellite of Wichita Technical College. Martha Butler, who was one of my professors at SC when I was getting my master’s degree heard that I might need a job and she called me. She had me come in for an interview a few days later, and I have been here ever since.”

Current took the position in the nursing department at SC until the program was finished in 2013.

“I stayed after the program went away,” Current said. “I’ve done a lot with the athletic training program and I’ve also taught numerous science and biology courses. Throughout the years that I have been here, I have taught Nutrition, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Essentials of Biology, General Medical Conditions of the Athlete, Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries and Introduction to Athletic Training.”

This long-term teaching profession has given Current great joy.

“I have enjoyed being here,” Current said. “It has been a significant opportunity.”

Just because Current is the professor, does not mean she can’t learn too.

“I’ve learned that even though I identified as a nurse, we all have the capacity to be teachers,” Current said. “We can use our life experiences with the knowledge that we have to learn new things. I never thought I would be teaching as my job, but it was just one of those things that unexpectedly happened. It turns out that I liked it, so I stuck with it.”

Current made the decision to retire for various reasons.

“The athletic training program, which was half of my course load, turned into a master’s level program,” Current said. “By doing so, it took away some of my courses that I taught. Southwestern also has a benefit that if you’ve been here where your age and the number of years you have worked add up to be 77, then they offer you an early retirement package. That fit my situation well because it was perfect timing.”

Leaving SC and retiring is a bittersweet thing for Current, but also a happy thing too.

“I will miss my co-workers and students, but I am looking forward to not having responsibilities,” Current said. “It will be a nice change to not have to constantly be somewhere Monday-Friday. I enjoy being outside and gardening, so I will have more time to do that. I also am excited to read more with my new-found free time.”

The last year of teaching was a crazy one to end on for Current.

“This last year of teaching has been one heck of a way to go out with the pandemic,” Current said. “It has definitely been a challenge for students and professors alike.”

Lisa Braun, director of athletic training education program, graduated from SC in 1998 and has been working here ever since then.

Braun has known Current since 2013 when she came to work here with the athletic training program as well.

“I’d say we are pretty good companions,” Braun said. “Melinda is definitely someone who I consider a friend and not just a colleague. On the professional side, Current has been a really big mentor for me. She is a really important person for me to bounce ideas off of and to work with.”

“On a personal level, she’s been a really good person to talk to. In fact, I was just talking with her about a personal situation and she was giving me some good advice.”

Braun will miss Current’s presence.

“I am trying not to think about her empty, neighboring office too much,” Braun said. “I am thrilled for her, but it is a sad thing as well. She definitely deserves to go retire and enjoy it. Personally, it is going to be tough, because she has got some pretty big shoes in my life that I don’t know how I’ll fill when she’s gone. I am going to miss her.”

Delainey Clum, health science junior, is a student of Current’s.

“She is very passionate about the subjects she teaches,” Clum said. “She obviously cares about her students and wants them to do well in life. I know she’s been at SC for a long time and retirement is a big thing for her. I am happy for her, but I think it’ll be hard to find another professor that cares as much as she does to take her place.”