After James Cobin graduated from Black Hawk College in the ‘70s, and became a nurse, less than 3 percent of nurses were men.
His pioneering spirit and love for the college live on in a new $250,000 established in his honor, to support BHC nursing students.
Nearly seven years after Cobin’s death, his husband Stan Anderberg (who died in June 2022) left a $250,000 endowment in his name at Black Hawk, to provide scholarships for full-time nursing students (maintaining a 3.0 GPA). There are currently 96 in the associate’s program.
Wendy-Hilton Morrow, niece of Jim and Stan, spoke of the importance of the gift – announced Monday at the college’s Health Sciences Center.
“Both of my uncles would be horrified there’s this much fuss over this donation,” she said. “They were very special individuals and I don’t want to lose sight of that.”
“I really was blessed to have two amazing uncles,” Hilton-Morrow said, noting Stan was her mother’s brother.
Jim Cobin was in the Black Hawk class of 1976 and was a trailblazer.
“At that time, fewer than 3 percent of nurses were men, so that was very unusual,” Hilton-Morrow said. “Being my Uncle Jim, he did everything at his own level. He was actually the president of his class at Black Hawk, for that nursing class of 1976.”
He worked at the former Moline Lutheran Hospital, and eventually moved to St. Petersburg, Fla. Then, Stan was a respiratory therapist, and they both worked at Bay Pines VA Hospital, from which they retired.
Cobin worked in the hospital ER and he loved it, Hilton-Morrow said.
“He loved the adrenaline rush that came with it; he loved the camaraderie amongst his fellow nurses, with the doctors,” she said. “He also loved the stories he got to share with others.”
“For my Uncle Jim, being a nurse was more than a profession — it was truly his calling, as it was for so many people who go into nursing and other health science fields,” Hilton-Morrow said. “He just loved taking care of people. He took care of my grandmother; took care of me growing up, and took care of my three sons on many visits.”
During their lives, Hilton-Morrow said her uncles were very generous, giving to wildlife protection and human rights.
Anderberg decided to establish a scholarship in respiratory therapy at a college in St. Petersburg, and one in honor of Cobin at Black Hawk.
A shining example
“To me, they set the model for what it means to give back, in your lifetime, but also how do you think about how you can continue to give back and make opportunities possible even after you’re gone,” she said. “What an incredible model that is for all of us.”
“My uncles gained so much from their careers in the health sciences and I know they want that for other students here at Black Hawk,” Hilton-Morrow said.
“We all know the world needs more nurses, and good nurses, and we hope this gives the opportunity to help students with day-to-day expenses and make it more affordable,” she said.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. workforce of registered nurses is expected to grow from 3.1 million in 2021 to 3.3 million in 2031. There is also a projected 203,200 openings for RNs each year through 2031, when nurse retirements and workforce exits are factored into the number of nurses needed in the U.S.
Even though Cobin moved to Florida in 1987, Hilton-Morrow is proud BHC remained so important in his life, that his husband would make this donation in his honor.
“At the end of their lives, they decided to help Black Hawk, that does produce exceptional nurses,” she said. Cobin, of St. Pete Beach, Fla., died on Jan, 23, 2017.
Stan’s sister Bona Hilton said Monday said he also went to BHC, receiving an associate’s degree in 1971 before completing a bachelor’s in education at Western Illinois University.
Anderberg (who first worked for Deere Harvester Works before losing his job in the farm crisis of the ‘80s) returned to WIU to earn a degree in respiratory therapy. At 70, Stan died on June 27, 2022.
The new scholarship is expected to help 6-10 nursing students a year, said Zenaida Landeros, executive director of the Black Hawk College Foundation.
Gifts like this showcase the impact that BHC programs have on people’s lives, she said.
“It shows they’re willing to give back to students. so I think if you do have a passion for that, and are willing to take that path into nursing, somebody has invested in that potential in you,” Landeros said.
For more information on the nursing program, visit the BHC website HERE.