May 10, 2018 – Newark, OH—It's been a little more than one year since Elizabeth Barnhart was senselessly killed by her husband. Barnhart, a young registered nurse who loved her profession and was passionate about helping others, was only just beginning a promising career as an emergency room nurse at Newark's Licking Memorial Hospital. A 2015 graduate of Central Ohio Technical College's (COTC) Associate of Applied Science in Nursing Technology program, Barnhart was an outstanding student and well-known to use the phrase "nurse so hard," which she used to describe the deep level of compassion and commitment needed by nurses to provide exceptional patient care.
Now, Barnhart's family is honoring her memory by ensuring that her legacy of nursing excellence will continue to live on. The inaugural Elizabeth Barnhart Award for Nursing Excellence was presented at COTC's spring 2018 nursing pinning ceremony on Thursday, May 3, at COTC's Newark campus. In a deeply poignant and moving presentation, Ben Barnhart, Elizabeth's younger brother and current COTC associate degree nursing student, presented the award honoring his late sister to spring 2018 graduate Samantha Eaton. A large number of Barnhart's family members were present at the ceremony to remember a life taken too soon and to reflect upon Barnhart's commitment to a profession dedicated to serving others.
"The Elizabeth Barnhart Award for Nursing Excellence was created in February of this year on the one-year anniversary of my sister's death," Ben Barnhart had written in his planned remarks for the ceremony.
But it was Kris Bowman, COTC associate professor of nursing, who unexpectedly delivered the remarks to the hushed auditorium, lending her voice to a visibly still-grieving brother deeply affected by the occasion.
Caption: COTC 2018 graduate Samantha Eaton is awarded the inaugural Elizabeth Barnhart Award for Nursing Excellence by Ben Barnhart
"My family wanted to establish this award to honor Elizabeth's commitment to the nursing profession and to offer support to graduates of COTC's nursing technology program as they begin their career. It will now be the highest honor a COTC nursing graduate can receive," Bowman read slowly but clearly, striving to contain her own emotion.
The Barnhart Award will honor a graduating student who exemplifies the highest ideals of the nursing profession: intelligence, commitment, sacrifice, integrity and a compassionate connection to others. Recipients will receive a certificate and a $300 cash stipend to help defray the cost of equipment and career-related fees, including testing and licensure.
As National Nursing Week 2018 comes to a close, a nationwide observance honoring America's more than 3 million registered nurses, COTC celebrates the life and dedication of Elizabeth Barnhart.
For those wishing to honor Elizabeth Barnhart's legacy, contributions can be made to the Elizabeth Barnhart Award for Nursing Excellence. Please make checks payable to "COTC Elizabeth Barnhart Award" and mail to the COTC Development Office, 1179 University Drive, Newark, OH 43055, or call 740-364-9514 to make a credit card donation.
COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.