Hazle Elizabeth Walker Blakeney influenced the education of numerous students even before she moved to Virginia in 1954. In that year she came to Norfolk to develop a new Department of Nursing at the Norfolk Division of Virginia State College, now Norfolk State University. There she organized an innovative two-year program leading to an associate degree in nursing, the second to be offered in Virginia. The program, accepted as one of the pilot schools in the research project directed by Dr. Mildred Montag of Teachers College, Columbia University, was approved by the Virginia Department of Education and by the Virginia State Board of Examiners of Nurses. Through her efforts Virginians of all races have greater access to the nursing profession.
"...Dr. Blakeney devoted her life to education, nursing practice, cooperation and collaboration to promote change and enhance nursing services, student enrollment and advancement and the promotion of health in the community. 'May the Work I've Done, Speak for Me' was sung at her memorial service as a testament to all those whose lives she touched." - Shelly Lewis, RN, and Bennie Marshall, RN, Blakeney Hall of Fame Nomination, 2005
Hazle Walker Blakeney devoted most of her nursing career to the education of nurses. She began as Director of Nursing Services and Nursing Education at Good Samaritan Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, and obtained her Master's Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University. She demonstrated her initiative and willingness to take bold new steps when she arrived at the Norfolk Division of Virginia State College (now Norfolk State University) in 1955. She planned and secured the necessary support and approvals to begin an associate degree in nursing education program that year.
Blakeney was successful in having the Norfolk State program accepted into the Cooperative Research Project on Community and Junior College Education for Nursing, directed by Dr. Mildred Montag from Teachers College, Columbia University. There were six other pilot programs in the project, but the Norfolk program was the only one identified as located in an African-American college. In a letter to Dr. Montag in 1945, Blakeney discussed the great support of Dr. Lyman Brooks, President of the College, as well as that of the Director of Nurses at Norfolk Community Hospital, the major site for the students' clinical experience. Blakeney said that she had secured clinical experience at other local hospitals "but their tacit position was that our students would practice only in the Negro Wards. I must admit that I accepted that implied limitation without question." She then said, parenthetically, that she had enough problems without further complicating things with "racial issues." She concluded, "I'm finding this little fight to be rather stimulating. It focuses ones ideas when she is called upon to verbalize her support of a given position." In the thirteen years Blakeney was in Norfolk, the program she had developed expanded to meet an increasing need for registered nurses.
In 1968, Blakeney was appointed as Director of the Allied Health Program at Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey. In this position, she was responsible for the associate degree nursing program at Newark Beth Israel Hospital as well at programs for record librarians, unit managers, and medical secretaries.
Blakeney also influenced students and educators in her work as a consultant to the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges and served as Chairman of Career Development, Graduate Programs at the University of Maryland. She was active in nursing organizations at the local, state, and national levels. She served as Chairman of the American Nurses Association Commission on Education from 1974-1978, and demonstrated her commitment to cultural diversity when she chaired a committee to seek Spanish speaking, Spanish surnamed nurses, and students for minority fellowship projects. In 1974, the ANA received a $1,000,000 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct research and to help minority nurses earn doctorates. Blakeney was one of the members of the original advisory committee for this project directed by Dr. Ruth Gordon.
A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Tau, and Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc., Gamma Chapter, Blakeney was also actively involved in the health ministry at her church, Concord Baptist in Baltimore, Maryland. She participated in congressional hearings on nursing and reviewed applications for planning and disbursement of grants for the federal government. Honored in several ways, Blakeney valued her recognition as one of the founding Directors of the Associate Degree Education Programs in Nursing in Junior and Community College Education.