"I'm not very exciting," claims associate teaching professor Dr. Peggy H. Anderson (AS '83, BS '99, MS '01). "I'm just kind of a normal person that comes in and gets her work done." But anyone that knows about her dedication, her compassion, and her love of service knows there's much more to her than that.
Anderson currently works as an undergraduate program coordinator and as the faculty rank and status council chair. She teaches community health nursing and public and global health undergraduate classes, leads a nursing capstone group each semester, and teaches the vulnerable populations section of the public and global health nursing course each spring. She and her students work with at-risk populations, which includes refugees, immigrants, and the incarcerated.
Her work with the prison began about 12 years ago when she was called as a Relief Society president for the Utah State Prison. "I've always volunteered in the community, but this was perhaps the most life-changing," Anderson says.
One experience from this time particularly stands out to her. She had decided that for this Relief Society meeting, they would teach the sisters the words to Primary songs. The first song, "A Child's Prayer," caused a sister who was at the meeting for the first time to start weeping. "By the time we got to the end of the song, we're all crying," Anderson says. When asked to share her story, the sister talked about the first time she was in jail. She had been in a cell, awaiting her sentencing, when she heard the song "A Child's Prayer." Despite never having been religious, she had knelt in her cell to say her first prayer. During this prayer, she had asked to learn the words to that song. The song is now a staple of the yearly fireside at the prison.
Anderson also volunteered for the Bedtime Stories Program, which allowed incarcerated women to record themselves reading bedtime stories for their children. Inspired by her experiences at the prison, Anderson created the global health clinical practicum curriculum.
She didn't always plan to go into nursing. Her initial interest was with special education; she became confident that the child development discussions she'd had at the dinner table with her mother, a pediatric nurse, was a good substitute for going to classes. However, a conversation with her father would change the course of her life. Her father reminded her that she needed to go to classes but then stated, "With your specific characteristics and attributes and desires, nursing [would] probably be a good fit for you."
That conversation led her to apply for nursing school a decision Anderson describes as "the absolute correct choice." After graduating, she worked in pediatrics and then moved to a surgical center. She became a clinical educator for surgical services, and BYU later reached out to her, asking her to work with clinical students.
Anderson is a woman of service. Even during her limited free time, she continues to serve her ward and her community, to teach Primary, and to help refugee women learn how to sew.
When not working, teaching, or volunteering, Anderson enjoys spending time with her family of 8 children and 17 grandchildren. She also loves to read and sew, and she plans to extend her hobbies with her new quilting machine.
Her love for the Lord and her students is apparent. She admonished students to be engaged in their work, to be open to promptings, and to look for tender mercies during their classes and their careers. "I have such a testimony of nursing, and I just feel so strongly that the Lord has a tender place in His heart for nurses, because we care for His children."