AIC School of Health Sciences Dean Honored as Commonwealth Heroine

SPRINGFIELD — Karen Rousseau, dean of the School of Health Sciences at American International College (AIC), has been recognized as a member of the Commonwealth Heroines class of 2023 by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW). This state-established body is responsible for assessing the status of women in Massachusetts and making recommendations to enhance access to opportunities and promote equality.

Each year, in collaboration with state legislators, the commission acknowledges and celebrates remarkable women who have made significant contributions to their organizations and communities. Legislators are encouraged to nominate one woman from their constituency, highlighting her impactful contributions, even if they have not received widespread media attention. Rousseau was nominated by state Sen. Jacob Oliveira as the honoree in his Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester district. She is among 126 women across the state who will be honored during the MCSW’s 20th-anniversary celebration at the Massachusetts State House on Friday, June 23.

“The Commonwealth Heroines are women who don’t make the news, but make all the difference in their communities,” MCSW Chairwoman Sarah Glenn-Smith said. “Thousands of women in every community across the Commonwealth perform unheralded acts on a daily basis that make our homes, neighborhoods, cities, and towns better places to live. Commonwealth Heroines use their time, talent, spirit, and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others in their community. They are mentors, volunteers, and innovators. They are the glue that keeps a community together.”

With a career spanning four decades, Rousseau excelled as a practicing registered nurse and has dedicated more than 30 years to nursing education. Her areas of expertise include maternal/newborn and pediatric nursing, as well as nursing management. Before holding the position of dean of the School of Health Sciences at AIC, she served as director of the Division of Nursing and contributed as a professor in both the undergraduate and RN-to-BSN programs.

“I’m appreciative of this recognition,” Rousseau said. “I’ve always strived to be a role model to help our nursing students here at AIC be successful in their careers. People look up to and respect nurses, so I always bring that health lens to whatever I do.”

In addition to her leadership role at AIC, she is actively involved in various nursing organizations, including Beta Zeta at Large of Sigma Theta Tau, the Organization of Nurse Leaders, ACAD for Academic Leaders, the Healthcare Partnership for Western Massachusetts, and the Pioneer Valley Interprofessional Education Collaborative. She previously served as a co-chair for the Western Massachusetts Nursing Collaborative, where she worked toward creating seamless educational pathways for nursing.

Outside of her professional commitments, Rousseau is deeply dedicated to her community. She serves on the board of directors for Chicopee’s RiverMills Senior Center and actively participates in the Comprehensive Plan for Chicopee 2040 and the Chicopee Charter Review Commission. Her past involvement with the School Wellness Committee further demonstrates her commitment to the well-being of others.

In choosing Rousseau for recognition, Oliveria said it was his honor to work with MCSW to select someone who truly embodies what it means to serve.

“Whether through her efforts in newborn and pediatric nursing or now with the development of her students at American International College, Karen has spent her life serving others,” he said. “I can’t think of a more deserving individual to recognize. I’m proud to call her my constituent, and I’m grateful for all the incredible work she’s done in her career. I look forward to seeing what she’ll accomplish next.”