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MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause


Scottish-born nurse devoted to America

by Mary Helen Yarborough
Public Relations
She probably knows more about American history than most U.S.-born citizens, including those whose roots date back to the New World discovery. A former British subject, Roslin Smith, R.N., also expresses deep admiration and devotion to her new homeland, describing in one word what best describes America: “generosity.”
Registered nurse Roslin Smith waves an American flag during an apple pie social given by her coworkers in PACU. Smith  became an American citizen on Jan. 16.
Smith hails from Greenock, Scotland; and became an American citizen on Jan. 16 with 50 other immigrants during ceremonies at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Enforcement office at 1 Poston Road, Charleston.
The critical care nurse in MUSC’s patient acute care unit (PACU) had wanted to become an American citizen for years.
“I cried on Sept. 11, because I said, ‘They killed my Americans.’… I think I must have been an American in a past life,” Smith said. “They accused me of defecting to England (when I married my English husband) now they say I’ve defected to America. And I say that’s just fine with me.”
Her coworkers treated her to a surprise social a few days after her naturalization with a big apple pie and trinkets representing Americana. Little American-themed icons and treats surrounded her in the PACU nurses’ break room: football, basketball and baseball Pez-head dispensers; an American flag, beverage coozies; and a pie that was gladly shared by other nurses.  “I have nothing negative to say about America,” Smith said.
Having fallen in love with America during her previous travels and work in the states, Smith recalls interviewing for the job at MUSC with Bonnie Foulois, R.N., nurse manager of the Nursing Informatics Department.  It was during a nurse-shortage crisis during the late 1990s, and people with Smith’s qualifications were a welcome source of talent. “I interviewed in my pajamas. … It was by telephone, of course, between Bonnie in Charleston and my home in Scotland,” Smith said with a chuckle, recalling who would also become a close friend. “Bonnie was my first manager, and she later became the godmother of my son.”
Smith had staked her goal to American citizenship while attending Kansas University. “When I had to leave and return to Scotland, I cried,” she said. “I said, ‘If it takes me 10 years, I’ll be a U.S. citizen for good.’ It took me 12.”
Smith, along with her husband, author and filmmaker Nick Smith (Milk Treading; Kitty Killer Cult; Undead on Arrival), and 3-year-old son, landed in Charleston in July 2003. “We knew no one. …But everyone here was so warm and friendly.”
They each toted one suitcase containing everything with which they’d start their new lives. “Now we have two of everything: two cars, two pets...”
When the Smith family obtained an apartment in West Ashley, where their home included all of the conveniences common to most Americans, she said, “I thought I was rich, because I had an ice-making machine,” she added.  “We didn’t have ice-making machines in Scotland.”
Now, with the help of tools to create quick culinary arts, she bakes her own bread, makes ice cream, pizza and cake. “I love Heinz baked beans,” she admitted, “Because they aren’t loaded down with sugar. They were cheap in the U.K., but they are expensive here.”
Smith, who started out with a degree in film from Bournemouth University where she met her husband, also helps edit his films, including new releases, “Cold Soldiers,” and “Summer in the City,” a documentary about Charleston high school drama students in New York.
Meanwhile, Smith’s American dream may have been initiated by her parents who visited here each year for decades. “I had come back and forth,” she said. But when she finally landed, Smith proclaimed her ability and desire to engage in the freedoms that are granted with naturalization. “I will be able to vote and serve on the jury,” she said. “Those are my rights as an American citizen.”

Friday, Jan. 30, 2009

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