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Prouty, Helen Lucia (1908-2005) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Prouty, Helen Lucia (1908-2005)
Variant Name: Helen L. Prouty

Historical Note:

Helen Lucia Prouty was born November 21, 1908 in Shelton, Nebraska to George and Martha (Bassett) Prouty. She was the third of six children. After receiving her high school diploma in 1926, Helen’s mother encouraged her to continue her education. She then enrolled at the Nebraska State Teacher’s College at Kearney where she received her junior college diploma and a teaching credential in 1928. While teaching at schools in western and central Nebraska, Helen simultaneously took classes at the University of Nebraska. She graduated in 1939 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education.

For the next six years, Helen taught in the Nebraska area. In 1945, she moved to Biloxi, Mississippi where she served as a Civil Service instructor in electrical maintenance at the Army Air Force Technical School at Kessler Field. In 1947, Helen left Kessler to attend the Lewis School of Hotel Management in Washington, D.C. After that, she joined her mother and her sister Barbara in Oakland, California. Helen resumed her studies and enrolled at the University of California at Berkley where she received her Master of Arts Degree in 1950 and her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in 1951.

Upon graduation, Helen received an Assistant Professor teaching position at San Diego State College. Prouty was the first woman to join the faculty of the School of Education and the first female faculty member at San Diego State to hold a Ph.D. She spent the rest of her teaching career at San Diego State, and retired in 1976.

During her tenure at San Diego State, Helen attained the rank of Professor of Secondary Education. She taught various courses relating to education, educational psychology, and counseling. In addition, she helped the school develop the first Master’s Degree program and she helped create the first program for student nurses. Helen was actively involved in faculty affairs and numerous professional organizations. She served as a guest Professor and taught summer sessions at the University of Oregon in Eugene, University of Manitoba, University of Victoria, and the University of California, Berkley. One of the highlights of her career occurred in 1969, when she received a personal invitation from Princess Maryam to spend two months in India assisting with the development of curriculum that would be used in the adult education courses in child development and psychology for the women of the Bohra community, an Islamic sect in Bombay.

In addition to her many academic accomplishments, Helen was involved in a variety of organizations outside the academic arena. She was a licensed Psychologist and a member of the California State Psychological Association and the Academy of San Diego Psychologists. She participated in the formation of the San Diego Psych-Law Society in 1973, and served as secretary and historian for several years. She was a member of Pi Lambda Theta (National Honor and Professional Association in Education), Phi Delta Kappa (Professional Fraternity in Education), the San Diego Women’s Club, and Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. She also served as a silent partner in her sister’s business, a chain of women’s fashions shops located around the San Diego area.

Upon her sister Barbara’s death in 1997, Helen continued to live on her own. She was hospitalized in late 2004 after a few health setbacks. Following her stay at a local San Diego hospital, Helen was moved to a rehabilitation center in La Jolla where she passed away in her sleep on January 2, 2005. She was 96 years old.

Note Author: Katie Richardson

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