University of Pittsburgh
March 15, 2007

Pitt Honors College and Nursing Student Named 2007 Emma W. Locke Award Winner

Pitt senior Joanna McKee will receive dual degrees in April
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Joanna McKee, a Pitt Honors College senior majoring in nursing, was named the 2007 Emma W. Locke Award winner during Pitt's annual Honors Convocation Feb. 23 in Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland. McKee, who holds a 3.97 GPA, will graduate in April with the Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and the Bachelor of Philosophy degree from the Honors College.

Established in 1946 by Charles A. Locke in memory of his mother, the Emma Locke W. Award is presented annually to a graduating senior in recognition of high scholarship, character, and devotion to the ideals of the University. The student must have at least a 3.85 GPA and plan to continue his or her education after graduation.

McKee is dedicated to serving others. She has worked with patients in AIDS clinics and taught HIV transmission prevention to high school students in Botswana, Africa, as well as volunteered in an orphanage in India. After the devastating tsunami of 2005, McKee learned that the orphanage had taken in 40 additional children who had lost their parents in the storm. She organized an effort called "Engaged Hearts United" and raised more than $8,500 to provide beds, food, and clothing for the children.

McKee's passion for Mexican culture was ignited while volunteering in a nursing home in Guadalajara, followed by an internship at a rural hospital in Patzcuaro. Having achieved a self-taught level of fluency in Spanish, McKee requested placement outside of the pre-approved School of Nursing community health rotation sites to utilize her language skills at a free bilingual clinic on the South Side and at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's Primary Care Clinic on the day that bilingual services are offered, working two days a week instead of one.

Other volunteer efforts include assisting Global Links to recycle medical supplies for developing countries, working in an inner city Chicago daycare on Alternative Spring Break, and fundraising for Rescue Childhood to build an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. McKee also participates in the Nursing Student Association, serves as vice-president of the International Health Club, and referees lacrosse.

Among McKee's honors are the Ann M.J. Reed Memorial Scholarship from the School of Nursing for academic achievement (2004); the Nightingale Award of Pennsylvania for academia, leadership, and volunteerism (2004); and a University Honors College scholarship for her thesis "Barriers to Care for Mexican Immigrants in Pittsburgh."

An Ambler, Pa., native, McKee plans to attend graduate school for nursing and possibly public health. Her long-term goal is to open a bilingual clinic as a nurse practitioner to serve the medical needs of the poor and uninsured.