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Listening

There’s a card with the Supergirl logo in rainbow colors pinned to the corkboard in new College Nurse Chris Amidon’s office in the Student Health Center. The handwritten note came from a student during Amidon’s 14 years as the nurse at Crawfordsville High School, where she also coordinated health services for the school system. It’s a thank-you for listening.

“You are patient with us when we visit with personal issues,” the student wrote. “You treat each student with love and understanding.”

Amidon was the 2009 Indiana School Nurse of the Year, represents Indiana on the board of the National Association of School Nurses, helped establish the Montgomery County Free Clinic, and this year led a successful effort to fund a countywide program to boost the mental health of children.

But listening with compassion— and putting that compassion into action—has been the heart of her work.

“There’s a lot to this job,” Amidon says of the position that has been held by only three other people— Alberta Hudson, Sheila Evans, and Carol Lamb—during the past 60 years. “There’s serving students, there’s the pharmacy side, and the administrative side. And we work with great doctors who do so much for the community.

“What I’m looking forward to most is building relationships of trust.”

This is her first time on staff at Wabash, but Amidon has been a member of the Wabash community for years. She first started cheering on the Little Giants at home and away games when husband Jim Amidon ’87 was the College’s sports information director, and she is a long-time supporter of the Wabash theater department and performed in its production of Angels in America. She also worked with Wabash doctors on public health initiatives like the Christian Nursing Service, which later became the Free Clinic.

“I think of Keith Baird ’56, a doctor who was so good at meeting people where they are,” she says. “He was on the cutting edge about understanding depression—he was way ahead of his time.”

Amidon says she’s looking forward to working with students to take a more proactive approach on a variety of health issues. That includes working with the Mental Health Concerns Committee, as well as the Global Health Initiative, where she is already an advisory committee member.

“The coolest thing about Wabash is the guys will lead these things— they just need someone to support them, help them make it more practical, more doable. I want to meet with the students, find out what they’re interested in, and learn how can I help them.”

In other words, she’ll be listening.