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MARQUETTE– Dr. Kathleen Shingler Weston from the tiny U.P. town of Kenton helped make great advances in the world of medicine. Coming from Kenton, Northern Michigan University was huge institution for her where she found her passion for science.
“After graduating from Northern, Kathleen went to Munising and taught biology at the high school there and then she went to the University of Michigan and got a Masters in Science in Anatomy and Physiology and then went to Temple University where she started working working teaching for the medical school there,” said Jane Surrell, NMU Foundation.
While at Temple she also got her doctorate at 44-years-old in 1951. Following that, she was the first woman doctor hired at Parke-Davis and Company in Ann Arbor.
“It was kind of a great feat for her because she was paid the same as the men at that time and she was also allowed to eat in the men’s or the doctor’s lunch room which was not something that was allowed at that time,” said Surrell.
One of Kathleen’s greatest achievements was working on the Salk Polio Vaccine.
“When she went to work at Parke-Davis, she was in charge of the toxicology area that brought that Salk Polio vaccine to market so that it could be given to thousands of children,” said Surrell.
Kathleen was honored by the US House of Representatives for this as well as a lifetime of important work at the forefront of prescription drug toxicology. President Lyndon Johnson recognized her as one of the nation’s Outstanding Medical Women and recently NMU named their science building after her.
“When the call came out to name the new science building, the first person I thought of was Kathleen Weston,” said Surrell. “I thought that she had an amazing life and a life that will be inspirational to perspective students, current students or even alumni so I put forth her name to have the building named after her and so now the new science building is now called the Kathleen Shingler Weston Hall.”
Kathleen is noted for saying that sometimes kids in a small town like hers might not believe they have opportunities like she did and that you need someone to push you which is what she received at NMU.
“Kathleen is a great example of what you can do with a great foundation of education at NMU and where you can go with that education if you don’t limit yourself,” said Surrell. “She was a great example of a life-long learner and she really believed in education.”
Kathleen passed away in 2016. She was 108-years-old