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The Heart of a Nurse

Melody Lindquist

How a Westminster education led to a lifetime of service

by Allyson Austin

Correction: This article was edited on June 4, 2024 for accuracy.

When Melody Lindquist (’96) first met the people of the Hopi Tribe on the Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona, it was as a nontraditional nursing student at Westminster. This unique field experience left a powerful impression on Melody, setting the trajectory of her career in health care and her continuing service to the Hopi Tribe. Now, Melody is turning her giving heart to future generations of nurses through an endowed scholarship for Westminster’s nursing program.

With two young children and a full-time job, pursuing an education was not an easy task for Melody. She knew, however, that the pursuit of one of her lifelong dreams was well worth the challenges. When Melody started at Westminster, she was thrilled to see her enthusiasm mirrored in her professors and classmates.

“There’s so much love and passion for the profession and the calling of nursing at Westminster,” she says.

As part of her program, Melody attended a field excursion to the Hopi reservation led by nursing professor Marsha Morton. Indigenous to northern Arizona and the Colorado Plateau, the Hopi are a federally recognized tribe descended from the Ancestral Pueblo people of the Southwest. The Hopi people continue to preserve their native language, sacred connection to the land, and cultural identity.

Partnered with a Hopi community nurse, Melody traveled around the Indigenous region for several days, assisting with wellness exams, immunizations, and any other care that community members needed. It was Melody’s first hands-on experience as a nursing student. She still recalls the impact of learning from an experienced, community health nurse in the field.

“I was so impressed with her kindness and acceptance of so many different people and how they lived,” Melody says. “I so enjoyed being there and learning from her from a community standpoint.”

Loving the people and work so much, Melody attended the trip with Professor Morton a second year. She continued to learn about the link between traditional healing and modern medicine and about the best ways to incorporate her patients’ culture into their specific care. Through some of Professor Morton’s personal connections in the area, Melody gained an even deeper appreciation of the rich culture and values of the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation, as well as the unique challenges they face as Indigenous American people.

“Marsha is the one I give credit to for inspiring my love for the Hopi and the Navajo,” Melody says, adding that she knew her heart would always be drawn back to the people she had connected with so deeply. “I knew that someday I would give my time to them—give anything I could.”

Melody ultimately graduated from Westminster with an Master of Science in nursing. Upon retiring as a family nurse practitioner, Melody was able to begin fulfilling her inner commitment to the people at the heart of her first nursing experience.

In 2012, Melody began working to provide health and wellness programming and educational resources to the Hopi Tribe. Her efforts have since evolved into The Beating Hearts Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the health, wellness, and education of the Hopi people and other Native American tribes.

The Beating Hearts supports workshops on incorporating healthy diet and exercise habits into existing Hopi lifestyles at the Hopi Wellness Center. In collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, the organization continues to administer COVID-19 relief to Indigenous American communities, which have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

Additionally, The Beating Hearts has helped support a mobile library and a computer lab that travel between the Hopi Tribe’s 12 villages, connecting individuals without transportation to media resources. They have also partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to provide children up to age five with monthly reading material to foster early literacy.

Melody’s continuing lifetime of service in nursing and beyond is inextricably connected to her education at Westminster, and she still fondly recalls her time there.

“I cannot say enough about the quality of the program and the professors,” she says. “I love all the doors it opened.”

To give back to the school that prepared her for her lifelong journey, Melody has started an endowed scholarship that will support transformational learning for Westminster nursing students for years to come—especially those who are raising families while attending school full-time, as she did.

At the beginning of this new chapter, Melody extends her heartfelt gratitude to all who answer the indispensable calling of nursing.

“The world needs nurses,” Melody says. “I just hope that when they graduate, they love the profession as much as I do.”

Transformational gifts like Melody’s help Westminster students to thrive year after year. To make Westminster University part of your legacy, please contact our Institutional Advancement Office:  801.832.2730.



About the Westminster Review

The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.