By Michele Lynn
The value of education was instilled in General Patricia “Patty” Dallas Horoho, BSN ’82, from a young age by her beloved grandfather and mother. Her grandfather, Eddie Tarone — who emigrated from Italy to the United States when he was 13 years old — emphasized that education is something that can never be taken away. That commitment to education inspired Horoho to establish the Josephine “Jo” Dallas Nursing Scholarship Fund at Carolina Nursing, in memory of her late mother.
“My mom and my grandfather both reinforced that nursing is a profession that allows you to give back,” says Horoho. “My mom was my biggest influence in my getting a degree in nursing so I wanted her legacy to live on with this scholarship that will help others pursue a career in nursing.”
The daughter of a career Army officer, Horoho joined the U.S. Army after graduating from Carolina Nursing, with the goal of seeing the world and the intention of serving for three years. Instead, she embarked on a 33-year career in the military, rising through the ranks to become a Lieutenant General. She served as the 43rd Surgeon General to the United States Army and Commanding General to the United States Army Medical Command, the first woman and the first Nurse Corps Officer to hold these appointments. In 2016, she was inducted into the United States Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame.
She retired from the Army in 2016 and currently is serving as the CEO of Optum Serve, a data analytics/consulting, health services, logistics and technology company that serves the federal government. Horoho says that her nursing expertise has provided a foundation throughout her career.
“The UNC School of Nursing had tremendous rigor and invested in students being successful and understanding the fundamentals of both nursing and critical thinking,” she says. “Carolina taught us to challenge ourselves and to work with our classmates as teammates, with the camaraderie of supporting each other and finding success alongside our peers.”
Horoho notes that the value and impact of nurses has been particularly evident over the past two years. “Nurses bridge all clinical capabilities and professions, serve as patient advocates, and are sometimes the last to see loved ones” she says. “We have the privilege to serve and I encourage people to go into the profession of nursing which is so needed.”
“It’s a gift that can reach generations; we won’t know a lot of the stories until they’re written years from now. By giving, if even just a little, we invest in the potential of our current UNC nursing students and make their journey a little bit easier.”Patty Horoho
Carolina Nursing provided Horoho with the skills and the knowledge to allow her to travel the world and create change. “What’s important is the impact of what you get to do in life and the ability to connect with others,” she says. “Whether I was commanding hospitals, serving as a CEO, or changing and implementing models of patient-centered care – I’ve been able to improve systems that change lives because of my education,” she says.
Horoho is paying forward her education by creating the scholarship fund honoring the life, work, and service of her mom. Jo Dallas was a devoted homemaker, beloved mother and nana, spiritual guidepost for her family and friends, and an active and energetic citizen and volunteer. Jo and Frank Dallas raised three children—Ed, Nancy, and Patty—during their nearly 70 years of marriage.
“My mom didn’t finish high school before she married my dad when World War II ended, and she supported him throughout his successful career in the Army,” says Horoho. Jo resumed her education once her children were older and graduated from high school when Horoho was a high school freshman. “She lived her belief that education is important, so establishing this scholarship in her name is a gift back to her,” she says. “Giving back to Carolina Nursing, which gave so much to me and allowed me to live an impactful life, feels like a full circle.”
The scholarship will provide support to an undergraduate nursing student with demonstrated need, with a preference for students with a military background or affiliation. “My mom had that connection to the military, supporting my dad for so many years, so I wanted to tie the scholarship to military service,” says Horoho. “It doesn’t have to be someone who joins the military; it could be a student with a family member who has served.”
She is excited about the ripple effect the scholarship will have. “By helping students overcome financial challenge, we allow them to focus on the discipline of nursing and their education,” she says. “It’s a gift that can reach generations; we won’t know a lot of the stories until they’re written years from now. By giving, if even just a little, we invest in the potential of our current UNC nursing students and make their journey a little bit easier.”