Berea College Celebrates 77 Graduates at Mid-Year Ceremony

 Berea College Celebrates 77 Graduates at Mid-Year Ceremony

December 12, 2023

By Paula Keshderian

BEREA, Ky. – Berea College recognized 77 students Sunday during its Mid-Year Recognition Ceremony. Berea alum Dr. Betty Hyatt Olinger addressed the students, who represented 21 states and three different countries.

Dr. Olinger began her career as a nurse after graduating from Berea College in 1969, taking her first job as a nurse and supervisor at Garrard County Memorial Hospital. Olinger married her husband David—also a Berea alum— in Danforth Chapel the day after their graduation. The couple moved to Rhode Island and, while there, Olinger expanded her career to nursing education, teaching for three years at the Newport Hospital School of Nursing. 

Olinger later returned to Kentucky, where she began her 20 years of teaching in the Berea College Department of Nursing. In 1977, she completed a master’s degree in nursing and her doctorate in higher education administration in 1987 at the University of Kentucky. 

In 1994, Olinger joined Kentucky State University as assistant vice president for Academic Affairs. She later served as acting vice president for Academic Affairs. Olinger says these two roles provided her with “a wealth of knowledge and experience in administration of academic programs and academic services.” 

Olinger was later appointed as the division director for Local Health Department Operations in the Kentucky Department of Health. There, Olinger was responsible for day-to-day operations in health departments across Kentucky and gained a broader perspective on public health nursing, policy development and management of the state’s personnel system.

In 2004, Olinger returned to Kentucky State University as chair of the School of Nursing. During this tenure, the nursing program received full accreditation. From there, Olinger retired in December 2013, but was asked to return to serve the program again in 2019 until again retiring in June 2021.