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Roberta Jane Swartzell Schoolfield
School of Nursing

Roberta Jane Swartzell Schoolfield, M.N., R.N., Instructor in Nursing (Public Health Nursing)

B.S.N., Indiana University School of Nursing, 1964; M.N., University of Washington, 1968.

Public Health Nurse, Bureau of Public Health Nursing, Indianapolis, Indiana; Instructor in Nursing (Public Health Nursing), University of Michigan School of Nursing, 1971-1972.

Roberta Jane “Bobbi” Swartzell was married in August 1965 to Byron Schoolfield, a medical student at Indiana University School of Medicine, and for a while the Schoolfields remained in the Indianapolis area. A photo of nurse Bobbi Schoolfield looking on as an ophthalmologist checked the eyes of a supine patient for glaucoma appeared in the Indianapolis News in December 1965. The photo was a publicity shot for a free clinic that was sponsored by the Indiana Society for Prevention of Blindness.

The Schoolfields made their permanent home in Flint, Michigan, where Roberta worked as a public health nurse and Byron practiced internal medicine. As a resident of the city in 2015 Roberta, then retired from nursing, saw the Flint water crisis unfold firsthand—toxic lead levels in the water and lead-poisoned children. Government officials had required the city to switch to the Flint River for the city’s water supply. Through the efforts of Marc Edwards, a University of Washington alumnus, extensive data was collected on the poisoning of Flint’s drinking water and a cover-up was exposed. In a story about this investigative work by one of their own published by the University of Washington in its alumni magazine in September 2016, Roberta “Bobbi” Schoolfield (’68) is quoted as saying, “A lot of us are very grateful that Marc Edwards stepped in to help the city cope with a major public-health threat.”