Alice CURTIS Cline ’02, Midwife

As a certified nurse midwife, Alice CURTIS Cline ’02 is a steadfast advocate and champion for women and their families during pregnancy and birth. Her commitment to helping—and empowering—others, particularly women, began at The Ellis School and evolved during her time studying nursing at Georgetown University. An Ellis lifer, Alice reflects on how her education at Ellis built her foundation, framed her worldview, and established her belief in herself.
Years at Ellis:Kindergarten to Grade 12 
Occupation:Nurse Midwife
Education:B.A. Religion and Humanities, University of Chicago; B.S. Nursing, Georgetown University; M.S. Nursing, Frontier Nursing University
Location:Pittsburgh, PA

How did you get into your line of work?
First, I found nursing, which allowed me to combine my interest in science and my desire to help others. In my first years working as a nurse, I met midwives who supported women and families through some of the most intense and vulnerable times in their lives. I knew this was the work I was meant to do—caring for women and families, and advocating, educating, and empowering them.

What lessons has your work life taught you?
If nothing else, my work keeps me humble and empathetic. A situation or client is always more complex than I perceive at first. I have learned never to judge before learning more, asking questions, striving to understand. I’ve also learned to ask for help. Even in the most overwhelming circumstances, I am never alone. There is always someone to help; there is always more to learn.

Do you think your time at The Ellis School shaped your career choice?
My experience at Ellis framed my view of the world—with women and girls at the forefront. Ellis established in me the knowledge that women have unlimited potential. I work every day to share that knowledge in the women I care for.

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
I’m only beginning my career as a midwife. I’ve been in practice three and a half years. But every time I support a woman through a difficult birth, trusting her body and her strength, shepherding her through the challenges, and protecting her in vulnerability, I feel it’s the highlight of my life.

We often talk about girls developing their voice at The Ellis School, what does that mean to you? How do you use your voice?
My years at Ellis provided me with academic skills, curiosity, and a commitment to service. As an Ellis student, I learned that speaking my mind, exercising my strength, and standing up for the vulnerable can make the difference between surviving and thriving.

How did The Ellis School stimulate your intellectual curiosity and creativity?
Ellis encouraged me to explore my interests in academics and art. This foundation has served me well in life and work. One might think the religion or philosophy courses in my first undergraduate degree or my creative work in art and fiber crafts aren’t relevant to my midwifery practice. But I find that the diversity of my background and interests help me connect with my patients, finding commonality with someone who feels isolated and misunderstood.

How did The Ellis School expand your worldview?
Sometimes Pittsburgh can feel like a small place. Ellis made the world feel bigger. Studying foreign languages, traveling to Washington D.C. and Stratford for field trips, opportunities to travel to Wyoming and Mexico with school groups—these experiences all had the impact of showing me glimpses of the wider world. I learned not everyone grew up with the opportunities and privilege I had. This global perspective helped establish my commitment to service and social justice.

What is the most important thing you learned at The Ellis School?
The Ellis School supported me, nurtured me, made sure my world felt limitless. In my work with women and families, I often find myself in the role of protector, defending their rights, fighting for access, working to change the system when it lacks justice. Ellis taught me I don’t have to be content with the status quo, or wait for others to make a change. I take action.

Name an instance or time in your life when you have been brave and bold.
I have to be brave and bold every day in my work. Midwives are said to have the hands of a lady, the eyes of a hawk, and the heart of a lion. Every day, I stand up for women, supporting their needs in the face of a health care system that routinely disempowers them. I fight for reproductive justice for every woman. I respond to emergencies with a cool head and bring families through danger safely.

When do you feel empowered and how do you empower other women in your life?
The midwifery model of care is grounded in feminism. My role is to educate, empower, and support the women I care for, at all stages of life. When a client speaks up for herself, asks for information, or comes to trust her body, I feel my work is done. My work makes me feel powerful, and I share that power with my clients.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Kind. Fierce. Tireless.