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Sarah Kelley

Sarah Kelley is part of a group of “hidden nurses” who were educated at UVA in the 1950s and 1960s and became trailblazers and community leaders in the effort to desegregate the UVA Hospital, but did not receive full alumni status from the University until 2019. A project undertaken by professor and Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry director Barbra Mann Wall and PhD student Tori Tucker shed light on the stories of the hidden nurses. Last spring, Sarah Kelley and her classmates were honored at “a ceremony recognizing the contributions [they] made to nursing, desegregation and to racial equity” and officially joined the UVA alumni ranks.

Tell us a few things about yourself (family, studies, activities, things that bring you joy).

I’m an activist for equality and equity. If I’m able to do it, I want to be able to do it. And I want my children to be able to do it, and my grandchildren.

What was your journey after leaving UVA?

I still love nursing. I love it. I just did not love the hours and I could never get adjusted. I just knew I needed another profession. I’m now a pastor. I’ve been pastoring for 35 years.

If you could impart a piece of advice to a female student on Grounds today, what would you tell her?

Patience. Patience. You have to have patience when you’re working with people.