Jeri Milstead doesn't think she belongs in the group inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame May 20.
Milstead's resume of more than 50 years in nursing -- some spent teaching and in creating health policy -- says otherwise, however, placing her in the 2014 class of 12 inductees from throughout the state chosen for remarkable accomplishments.
"I was thinking I don't belong in this group," Milstead said upon seeing other members of the Hall of Fame.
"It's quite an august group. I'm just thrilled."
Milstead, a Washington Court House native, currently lives in Dublin and has long considered central Ohio her home.
She was living in Newark with her husband, Glenn, and four children when she decided to go back to school at age 35 to get her bachelor's degree in nursing.
"We decided our children should go to college," she said, adding that more income would be needed.
Once that was completed, Milstead said she decided to stay at Ohio State University for one more year to get her master's degree. Soon after her graduation, Milstead's husband died suddenly at age 41.
"I'm so grateful I had that education because our lives would have been very different if I hadn't," she said.
South Carolina soon called to Milstead and she taught at Clemson University for 10 years before getting her doctorate in political science.
Her dissertation about needle exchange programs inspired a book that Milstead said is used in nursing graduate programs throughout the nation.
Health Policy and Politics: A Nurse's Guide is about to come out in its fifth edition.
Milstead put the first edition together with help from five others from throughout the nation who had masters' degrees in nursing and doctorates in political science.
"It was a wonderful time because health policy was just coming on the radar," she said.
Milstead's career took her to Duquesne University and finally the University of Toledo, where she was dean of the College of Nursing.
Upon retirement, Milstead moved to Dublin in 2008. But she hasn't slowed down.
"I don't feel today much different than I did 20 years ago," she said.
Milstead's schedule is filled with visits with friends and family, work on the fifth edition of her policy book, consultation work and volunteering with the Council for Ohio Health Care Advocacy.
"I look at these two hands and the world and think 'there's way too much to do,'" Milstead said. "But you do what you can do. I don't have many boring days."
While her career took her further than she imagined, Milstead said her pride and joy is her family.
"I'm proud that our children turned out well," she said.
"They were young when my husband died. They could have acted out ... but we hung in there together. We like each other.
"They're all college-educated and people that are good citizens. And they have children that are wonderful."