Mary Shirk Marienau, CRNA, MS, PhD, Class of 1971

Mary Shirk Marienau has always been a trendsetter. When she wanted to transfer to Allen School of Nursing in 1969, she had to receive special permission from Ms. Turner, who directed the program-because she was getting married. At the time there were only six or seven married students - who were called the 'out students' because they didn't have to live in the dorms. A year later, she had to go back to Ms. Turner to ask permission to stay in the program-because she was pregnant. Her daughter, Jennifer, was the first baby born to an Allen nursing student, Although Mary was the first mom - two more babies were born to classmates that year." Now the director of the Master of Nurse Anesthesia Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN., Mary helped create the school's Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. She completed her own PhD through the University of Minnesota. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa in 1976 and began Mayo's nurse anesthetist program in 1977. After completing her nurse anesthetist certificate, Marienau earned her master's degree from Winona State University while working fulltime and raising her daughter as a single parent. Meanwhile, Mary grew more and more interested in leadership and education. In 1987, she became a site visitor for the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA).