Ruth Patterson and Stephanie Waterhouse

Campaign for the Sciences at Southern Nazarene University
Throughout its long history, Southern Nazarene University has educated multiple generations of families. It has become commonplace to encounter students on campus who are second and even third generation students and are committed to keeping that legacy alive with their families in the future. One such family is that of Ruth Patterson, Class of 1973, and her daughter Stephanie Waterhouse, Class of 2009. 

The Patterson family’s SNU legacy began when Ruth left her small town of 1,500 residents in Kansas to attend SNU in 1969. Her desire to become a medical technologist and to attend a small private Christian college is what led her to Bethany, Oklahoma. 

 “I requested a catalog and then went to visit the campus,” Ruth recalled. “I liked it, applied, and was accepted.” 

During her time at SNU, Ruth said her most influential professor was Dr. Leo Finkenbinder whose passion for ecology was inspiring to her. Furthermore, Ruth said Dr. Finkenbinder was working on his doctorate at the time, which made him feel like a fellow student. 

“I had microbiology under him and almost changed my mind about being an MT. Micro is my most favorite area in the lab now,” said Ruth. “Dr. Finkenbinder wanted to see his students graduate and pursue their dreams.” 

After graduating from SNU, Ruth trained in Wichita Kansas at St Joseph’s Hospital and passed a national test to be a registered MT. Ruth credits her degree for enabling her to achieve her career goals. 

“I have spent 40 years performing laboratory tests in a hospital and retired in March,” explained Ruth. “That SNU degree opened the door for my occupation.” 

Ruth’s legacy at SNU science department continued when she and her husband Harry encouraged their daughter Stephanie to consider the university when she decided to pursue a degree in medicine. 

“SNU has a very high acceptance rate for medical school admission and Harry and I knew she would get what she needed to succeed,” recalled Ruth. “SNU beat out Texas A & M. We are thankful SNU has strived for excellence all through the years.” 

While her mother did have a significant influence on her decision, Stephanie said her first visit to the campus was instrumental in her decision to attend SNU. After meeting with Dr. Halliday and other science faculty, Stephanie said could instantly tell that they were invested in her education and in helping her reach her professional goals.

“Though I was initially considering a large state university after my visit, I chose SNU for the valuable education I would receive and the wonderful people who would teach me,” said Stephanie. 

Like her mother, Stephanie credits her degree from SNU in allowing her to achieve her medical career. In obtaining her Biology/Chemistry degree, Stephanie explained how her challenging science courses prepared her for the rigors of medical school more than she could have ever expected. 

“I can honestly say that without my education at SNU I would not have accomplished the things I have thus far in my medical education, and I likely would not have gotten my first choice for a residency program,” added Stephanie. 

Prior to graduating from SNU, Stephanie went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. In August 2009, she began medical school at Texas Tech University and later graduated in May 2013. Stephanie now lives in Charlottesville, VA where she is in pediatric residency at the University of Virginia. Upon completing residency, she plans to attend a fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care and then work in a Pediatric ICU in an academic setting.  

One common bond in Ruth and Stephanie’s SNU legacy is how they their faith was strengthened in seeing how God is at work in the sciences. 

“Everyday that I study the physiology of the human body I gain a picture of God’s creation and miracles,” said Stephanie. “I use my knowledge of science to treat patients’ illnesses, but my faith helps me treat their mental, emotional, and spiritual needs, which play a large role in helping them overcome illness.” 

Both Ruth and Stephanie are confident the Campaign For The Sciences will help cement future family legacies of scientists and physicians that will attend SNU thanks to the upgrade in facilities and equipment. Ruth said if it hadn’t been for SNU teaching up-to-date medical knowledge to her daughter, she would not be in residency now. 

“There are students to come who will be pursuing medical degrees and without funds to update facilities and equipment SNU will cease to draw the great educators they have had in the past,” explained Ruth. 

Stephanie said the world needs more Christian researchers, physicians, and scientists, which can be accomplished by investing in the Campaign For the Sciences so that SNU continues to attract new students. 

“The Bible speaks of being good stewards of our money. I truly believe that part of that stewardship is investing in the education of others,” said Stephanie. “Investing in the Campaign will help SNU buildthe resources it needs to provide the same wonderful education I received to many future generations.” 

Ruth hopes her SNU legacy will continue for future generations so her family will continue to receive the same quality and Godly education that she and her daughter experienced.