Shirley Caswell Harrow, R.N., B.A.

When I was twelve, I saw a poster urging young women to enlist in a "Proud Profession" and "Join the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps," (USCNC) and that became my dream. Although too young to join and still in junior high school when the war ended, I trained at Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing in NYC, and became a nurse in 1953. My nursing career began, I married and four years later took a fifteen year hiatus to raise four children. In 1970 after a refresher course at Boston College, I resumed my nursing career and earned a BA from Curry College in Milton MA.  I held a variety of nursing positions for almost thirty years and retired in 1999.  A providential post retirement opportunity arose when I was hired by the landmark Harvard Nurses' Health Study (NHS). For the next twelve years, I worked as a nurse interviewer for their cognitive function sub-study.  Following one of the interviews, a nurse told me that she had been a Cadet Nurse and was surprised to learn that I had heard about them.  She spoke eloquently about the "Corps” and their quest for recognition for their role in preventing the collapse of America's health care system during WWII.  "And," she said, "I'm still working!" When she asked if I'd help the Cadets, I saw this as my opportunity to connect with the nurses of my childhood dream. My work with the NHS afforded me the opportunity to speak with thousands of former US Cadets throughout the country- and most reported working in nursing for 30-40 years. My fascination grew; the USCNC became my passion and continues to enrich my life today.
In 2009 Sue Scheible, a journalist for the Patriot Ledger in Quincy MA, wrote an article about the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps and my involvement with them. The response was immediate: Former Cadets from the area contacted me and Ms.Scheible; I was asked to speak before the Hanover Visiting Nurses Association and more Cadets came to that presentation. Many opportunities arose to educate other groups and now, Elizabeth Beecher, a former Cadet, joins me to tell her story as a graduate of The U.S Cadet Nurse Corps and her resultant nursing career.
Our website is also a beneficiary of Sue Scheible's article-it put my name on the internet. Elsie Szecsy found it while searching for info about the US Cadets and a way to honor her mother, a former Cadet. She contacted me, explained her quest and asked: "How can I help?" and I answered: "We need a website!" Little did I know I was speaking with the Wizard of AZ!   And you are looking at the result!
Email address:
Relationship Status: 
Friend of a Cadet Nurse
Deceased Cadet Nurse: 
Nursing School: 
Mt. Sinai Hospital School of Nursing
Nursing School City: 
New York City
Nursing School State: 
New York