Fuller And Marfell Honored As Distinguished Alumni

The Hillsboro Education Foundation will be honoring two Hillsboro High School graduates–one who started a business that makes it possible for hearing impaired people to fully enjoy major sporting events, and one who is the dean of nursing at a major nursing university–with the Distinguished Alumni award.

The winners are Dr. Julie Marfell, of Lexington, KY, dean of nursing at Frontier Nursing University and a member of the Hillsboro High School class of 1977, and Patti White Fuller of Kirkwood, MO, owner of Good Sport Captioning and a member of the Hillsboro High School class of 1975.  The awards will be presented during a reception in their honor during the Old Settlers celebration on Thursday, Aug. 3, beginning at 2 p.m. at Gianni’s Pizza & Italian Ristorante in downtown Hillsboro.

Dr. Julie Marfell

Dr. Julie Marfell, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, FAANP, a family nurse practitioner and educator, is the daughter of Allen and Barbara Marfell of Hillsboro.

After graduating from Hillsboro High School, she earned her nursing diploma from Barnes Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis in 1980, her bachelor of science in nursing from Rush University in Chicago in 1990, and her doctor of nursing practice from Rush University in 1994.

She first taught in the Rush University College of Nursing, first as an instructor then as an assistant professor, from 1994-1999.  

She began her career at Frontier Nursing University in Lexington, KY–then Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing–as assistant program director in 1999.  She became chair of the Department of Family Nursing in 2000, a position she held for a decade until becoming the associate dean for family nursing in 2010.

She held that title in 2011 when the school became Frontier Nursing University, and in 2013 was named to her present title, dean of nursing.

Even as dean, Dr. Marfell remains close to the classroom and close to the patient.  Throughout her entire career, beginning at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis in 1980, she has practiced health care and still does so as a family nurse practitioner at The Little Clinic in Lexington.

“I became a family nurse practitioner to help address the issue of access to primary care, and I became an educator for the same reason,” Dr. Marfell said.  “I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the education of many nurse practitioners at both Rush University and Frontier Nursing University, and of nurse-midwives while at Frontier.  Seeing the alumni out there making a difference by providing health care in their communities is what makes me proud, and I am proud of their accomplishments.”

She has also published books on clinical decision-making, student selection and progression, and prenatal and post-natal care.  She has authored chapters in four other books, been published in both peer-reviewed and non-refereed journals and abstracts.

Dr. Marfell said working as a nursing assistant at the hospital while a student at Hillsboro High School was when she first realized she wanted to be a nurse.

Science courses that I took–anatomy, microbiology, biology–these prepared me for nursing school,” She said of her Hillsboro education.  “The language arts courses laid a foundation that has helped me with my scholarship which includes writing publications.”

She also credits the impact of the high school music program on her career.

“Choir taught me how to work as part of a group and to have the confidence to perform in front of an audience,” Dr. Marfell said.  “I use those skills daily.  I didn’t realize how lucky I was to get to sing for an hour every day when I was in high school–that, I still miss.”

Patti White Fuller

“As a captioner, I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve developed a skill that allows people with hearing impairment to read what happens daily in the news and in sports,” according to Patti White Fuller, daughter of the late Bruce and Martha White.  She is married to Steve Fuller, son of Hillsboro residents Drex and Sue Fuller.  “Being the parent of a special needs child has taught me how important it is to have quality support services to function in daily life.”

Fuller first became interested in court reporting after watching her brother, attorney Mike White, try a case at the Montgomery County Courthouse.  After graduating from Hillsboro High School, she attended Sparks Business School in Shelbyville then continued her education at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, earning a degree in 1982.

She then began a career as a court reporter in both state and federal courtrooms in Illinois and Missouri.

She was working in the federal court building in St. Louis while the new Busch Stadium that opened in 2006 was under construction.  Because of her extensive training in “Communication Access Real-Time Translation” or CART, the instantaneous translation of the spoken language into text, Fuller was aware what the law required and contacted the St. Louis Cardinals and proposed that her company could translate spoken public address announcements onto the new state-of-the-art scoreboard.

She was hired just before opening day at the new stadium in April 2006.  The Cardinals went on to win the World Series that year–and as part of the team, Fuller has a ring–and her company, Good Sport Captioning, was soon providing similar services for the New York Mets, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.  She has also branched out to the college football market and provides captioning for University of Missouri and University of Illinois games, and this fall will be adding Notre Dame.

In addition to her sports captioning business, she continues to use her skills for hearing impaired college students in St. Louis; lectures appear in real-time on hearing impaired students’ classroom computers.

More than her own entrepreneurial success, Fuller is amazed by the number of quality stenographers from her hometown school.

“What I find interesting is the inordinate number of court reporters from Hillsboro,” she said.  “Per capita, we take it over the moon.  Right now, I can think of 20-plus court reporters, which is not an easy profession to break into.”

Among the requirements?  Students must first train to write 100 words per minute, then practice to attain incrementally 120 words per minute all the way to 225 words per minute, all while maintaining 95 percent accuracy.

“So what makes Hillsboro so special, that we’ve produced the likes of Lori DeLuka Speiser, Angie Grabow Satterlee, Michelle Pachesa, Sheri Gad, Molly Sheridan Hobbie–just to name a few of the active reporters who I interact with on a regular basis on Facebook?” Fuller asked.  “It’s got to be the primary education we received in the basics: reading, writing and math, and yes, English is at the core of all we do.

“As a captioner, I’ve got to first hear it correctly, input through my ears, process in my brain, and slide it out via finger strokes into a form that’s readable to the audience, all at 250 words per minute or higher,” the Distinguished Alumni award winner said.  “All of this foundation comes through a solid primary education with an emphasis during the higher grades on keyboarding, business education and foreign language.”

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