It has been reported often that the 1980s were the backlash years—a time when women were told they could not have it all.


Dorothy Hammett (left)Fortunately that was not the case for Dorothy "Dottye" Hammett, who decided to go back to school and earn her master's degree—some days attending classes with her preschool daughter at her side.

"Even when I was at a point in my life when there were lots of strikes against me—when I had a young child and still wanted to get a master's," she said.

In 1980, I was able to take my little girl to class in order to complete a goal." Hammett said The W gave women an opportunity to see themselves as leaders.

"Women compete fiercely with men for the same opportunities, so here it was easy to know that you could be a leader, and I feel like The W facilitated that."

Hammett started in the nursing program at The W in 1969. She lived in The Mag at the time, was an honor student and even tutored biology. Shortly after, she married and completed her BSN at The University of Southern Mississippi.

In 1980, she decided to return to The W and pursue her master's in nursing. While she was back at The Mag for a second time, things were a bit different. Hammett was a single parent with a 5-year-old, with whom she shared a dorm room.

Her two suite mates would keep Kimberly (also known as Kimbie) while she worked the 3-11 shift at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle.

However, there were times when Kimbie, who is now in her 30s, would attend classes with her mother.

"The professors would look at me in horror when I first brought her in, and I guaranteed them that she would not open her mouth during class, that she would not disrupt the class in any fashion.

"I brought English workbooks and math workbooks, and at 5-years-old she loved those workbooks. For an hour and a half class, she would sit and go through those workbooks and not open her mouth."

Hammett was determined to reach her goal. She already had her mother, Mabel Wilborn Shaheen, and grandmother, Mamie Allen Wilborn, who had gone on before her at The W.

"My mother saw women as leaders. She got a degree in chemistry and she went on and got her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt in chemistry, worked at DuPont, and she was the chief chemical engineer for DuPont during the war," Hammett said.

Her mother and father, who was also a chemist, worked together on the Manhattan Project, a research project that produced the first atomic bombs during World War II.

"Mother learned early on she could be a leader and then she gave us impetus to become leaders ourselves," she added.

"When you found a road that was a difficult road, even though you were a woman, you could still navigate that road."

Hammett is a nurse practitioner with ConvaTec, an international company that is a development and marketer of medical devices with four business units—ostomy care, wound therapeutics, continence and critical care and infusion devices.

Her territory includes Columbus, which affords her the opportunity to visit campus, where she started her nursing career.

As a wound care specialist, she has other nurses across the state who call on her to heal their wounds.

"I don't feel like I could have gotten any better education anywhere else. The foundation of my knowledge based here (The W) prepared me for leadership roles."