Updates from Johnson County Community College: Nursing professor’s compassion for students lives on through memorial scholarship

Debbi Yeoman, Elizabeth Dillon’s daughter and previous JCCC professor

Students entering the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) field at Johnson County Community College have a guardian angel looking over them thanks to the Elizabeth J. Dillon Scholarship. This scholarship was recently established by Dillon’s family to honor her memory.

Dillon lived most of her life in the Kansas City area, receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of Kansas. After a long career as a nurse practitioner, she joined the nursing faculty at JCCC, where she taught CMA classes for many years. She was still working in the JCCC Nursing program up until her passing in 2017. She was 84 years old.

“I know that some of the students who had Professor Dillon when they first started classes at JCCC were propelled to go even further with a nursing career because of my mom and the experience she provided them,” said Debbi Yeoman, Dillon’s daughter. “This scholarship helps the College carry on with my mom’s caring and supporting spirit because she loved teaching and she loved helping students succeed.”

Mother-Daughter Classroom Duo

Dillon and Yeoman were among the few, if perhaps the only, mother-daughter professor teams in the state of Kansas. Yeoman was a professor in JCCC’s Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program for about five years. She was also a volunteer clinical assistant in her mom’s CMA class.

“With my LPN classes, my mom visited as a guest lecturer to share her experiences as a nurse practitioner,” Yeoman said. “She taught my students advanced ‘head-to-toe’ exam preparation, pharmacology and other higher-level topics that students normally wouldn’t get in a standard LPN class.”

“My students knew she was my mom, but in mom’s clinical classes it was a different story,” Yeoman added. “I taught beside her, and we were known as Professor Dillon and Professor Yeoman. Our ability to laugh and have a great sense of humor around each other and with the students often perplexed them. It wasn’t until the last day of clinicals that we would reveal our mother-daughter relationship.”

Putting Students First

Yeoman remembers her mom’s caring and compassionate spirit, and belief in everyone’s potential. Especially those facing personal obstacles. These characteristics were evident in her daily interactions with students.

“Oftentimes, Mom would spend extra time in the evening and on weekends tutoring students to make sure they understood the course material,” Yeoman said. “She also would meet students at times that were best for them because many times these students were single moms and family commitments came first.”

That compassion paid off. Yeoman said one of her mom’s proudest accomplishments while at JCCC was achieving a 100% passing rate for all students in the CMA program with Dillon as the professor.

“Mom would have been very proud of JCCC for recognizing the need to help students in this way, so they have the best opportunity to succeed in the classroom,” Yeoman said.

As an essential worker during the pandemic, Yeoman plans to use her overtime income to make this scholarship an endowment.

“I will fund an endowed scholarship because I want this to be a ‘forever thing’ that helps my mom’s memory live on,” she said.

More Ways to Support Students

The JCCC Foundation can allocate monetary gifts in a variety of ways, from establishing or supporting a scholarship, to personal endowments, memorial gifts and more. Learn about our giving opportunities and consider supporting JCCC students today.