The Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Teachers’ Association of New York on Sunday honored retired Registered Nurse Celia Bramble at a gala ceremony marking the group’s 34th anniversary.
The group also used the occasion to commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which was actually celebrated on Monday, a public holiday in the United States.
“Congratulations to our honoree, Colonel Celia Bramble, a stalwart hardworking member of our community,” said Jackson Farrell, the group’s La Croix-born president, about Bramble, who is also a retired officer in the United States Army Reserve. “Her titles are highly deserved. We wish her good health and prosperity as she continues her endeavors in serving the Diaspora.”
Bramble – who worked for the sprawling Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn, as part of New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, for more than four decades – said she was “truly honored to receive this honor,” stating that she accepted it with “a great sense of humility.
“The greatest award/reward is to know you’ve made a significant difference in someone’s life,” she said, stating that she was proud to have been affiliated with the Health and Hospitals Corporation and the US military, where, she said, she developed much of her teaching and leadership skills.
In an exclusive, post-ceremony interview, Bramble, the lone honoree, told Caribbean Life that “the glory and the honor belong to God.
“I have only done that which I have been ordained by Him to do,” she said. “He has granted me the skills, ability and fortitude to be a blessing to others, so I use them to His honor and glory.
“To be honored by teachers is a special blessing because of the role they play in their everyday lives,” she added. “They challenge, inspire, mentor, nurture, assess, and they evaluate. Who then is better able to determine when a job is done well. I guess my evaluation was favorable, hence the reason they recognized me.
“It is also a great honor to be recognized during this historical period – the eve of the birthday of the late civil rights leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as at a time when power and leadership of this great nation have been transferred from one Commander-in-Chief (Barack Obama) to the other (Donald Trump),” Bramble continued. “I will always remember this great honor that has bestowed upon me by Teachers.”
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Teachers’ Association of New York also recognized three nationals whom they said have been very supportive over the years: Leonie Conliffe, wife of the group’s public relations officer, Edward Conliffe; Donna Collis; and Morrison Matthias.
Bramble said she began her nursing career at the then Colonial Hospital in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, renamed the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, and migrated to the US shortly thereafter for an opportunity to advance her nursing career.
She graduated from C.W. Post College, Long Island University, where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, and the prestigious Columbia University in New York City, where she received Master of Arts and Master of Education degrees in nursing.
Bramble also holds certification in Nursing Education and Staff Development from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She is featured in the International WHO’S WHO of Professional Management, Second Edition.
At Kings County Hospital, Bramble held numerous positions until her retirement in 2009 as Associate Executive Director, Training and Organizational Development.
During her tenure at Kings County Hospital Center, she said her vision for nursing education and nursing practice, as well as her ability to work collaboratively with Deans and Chairpersons of Colleges and Schools of Nursing, led to the establishment of an on-site Master in Public Health, an on-site Associate to Bachelor of Science Degree program, and a generic Bachelor of Science Degree program in Nursing at Kings County Hospital.
In 1981, Bramble was commissioned as a captain in the United States Army Reserve. She held numerous positions in military training schools and hospitals, including Officer-in-Charge of Curriculum and Testing, Director of Staff Development, Assistant Chief Nurse, Executive Officer and Commander.
Over the years, Bramble said her devotion to duty, attention to details, and her clinical and leadership skills earned her the rank of Colonel, making her the first known Vincentian female officer to achieve that rank.
While Bramble retired from the US Army Reserve after 22 years of service, she remains an active member of the Retired Officers Association, both locally and nationally.
Over the years, Bramble has received numerous awards, proclamations and citations for her outstanding military and civilian service from health care organizations and elected community leaders, including a Congressional Award from former US Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns; proclamations from The New York State Senate, the Brooklyn Borough President, Council Members of the City of New York 45th, 40th and 35th Districts in Brooklyn; awards from The Hospice of Greater New York, Health and Hospitals Corporation and the New York State Nurses Association; and the Caribbean-American Health Care Award from Caribbean Life, the largest Caribbean-themed newspaper in the US.
Since her retirement, Bramble said she has devoted “a great deal” of her time inspiring, teaching, coaching and mentoring graduate nurses, at no cost, “to help them succeed on the challenging New York State Board for Nursing Examination to obtain license for practice.”
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consul General Howie Prince also applauded Bramble, stating that she has “blazed a trail in her life; and, for that, I congratulate her.”