Alumni Profile: Sally Ishikawa, Advancing Nursing from the Classroom to the Boardroom

Sally Ishikawa (MPH ’90, BSN ’70) is the current alumni chapter president of the UH Manoa Nursing Alumni Association. As a part of our alumni profile series, we asked Sally to talk with us about her own experiences at UH Manoa Nursing and her vision for the future of the UH Manoa Nursing Alumni Association.

Why did you join the UHM Nursing Alumni Association and how did you start serving as president?

I was asked by Dean Boland to help re-establish the nursing alumni association and to consider running for president when the first membership organizing meeting was held in April 2012. Since I had just retired full-time employment, I felt it was a great opportunity for me to give back to the School and the University.

photo of Sally IshikawaHow can the UHM Nursing Alumni Association make a difference in developing the future of nursing education?

The alumni association can make a significant difference in developing the future of nursing education by supporting the school’s various nursing programs, students, faculty and administration to prepare the nurses of tomorrow. Such support comes not only in terms of scholarship endowment, but also in mentoring students, participating in community projects, and volunteering in panels and mock interviews. Especially in light of the many challenges facing public education today, the alumni association plays an important role to ensure on-going educational resources.

Can you please share some memories with us about when you were a nursing student?

I have many fond memories of my experiences as a student nurse. Our class, 1970, was the last class to graduate from the 4½ year BSN program. The last semester was spent at a clinical site with a focus in leadership. Team nursing was the primary model of nursing at the time. I was at Leahi Hospital. So, it is pretty amazing that Leahi Hospital also became the last place I was employed at full-time. I often told my Leahi colleagues and staff that I had come “full-circle” as a nurse. Instructors who stood out for me personally include Dorothy Nakatsuji, Yoshiko Shimamoto, Lucille Love and Connie Carino. I loved my adult med-surg and public health rotations the most, and gravitated to those fields when I started working.

How has your education at UH Manoa Nursing contributed to your career success?

The UH Manoa Nursing education provided me with a sound basis in nursing knowledge that I built upon throughout my career. Having a BSN degree opened doors for me in public health and home health care. From the focus on leadership development in the UH Nursing curriculum, I found I could function comfortably in these types of nursing roles which eventually resulted in working as a nurse executive and administrator.

Sally Ishikawa poses with students

What do you think are the most important factors in nursing education today, as compared to when you were studying for a career in nursing?  

Compared to my nursing school days, the nursing students today definitely have the strong advantage of technology to assist them in skill development, practice with clinical scenarios to sharpen their critical thinking skills, and having resources online and on the web to assist with their learning. There is so much efficiency with the many facets of modern day technology. Just as important, however, is learning in an environment that encourages originality, diversity, respect and confidence that nurtures the student to strive for standards of excellence in nursing.

What are your goals for the alumni chapter?

The goals of the nursing chapter are to grow the membership of the chapter, especially among new graduates; attain and sustain a scholarship endowment fund that will help defray the educational costs for nursing students in various programs; seek ways for alumni to reconnect and stay connected with each other, as well as with news and developments of the School; support students through their programs, such as the Student Ambassador Program and Student Nurses’ Association; and to have fun!

Is there a message you’d like to share with your fellow alumni & friends?

The alumni chapter is only as viable and strong as its collective members. Please call, join, or come to a UHMNAA event. We need you! Visit us online at

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