VGCC Nursing grad completes bachelor’s degree during pandemic

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Vance County native Jeannie Adcock recently graduated from Fayetteville State University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, marking yet another career milestone for the Vance-Granville Community College alumna. She recently returned to VGCC to speak to the board of the college foundation about her experience and to express her gratitude.

Adcock now three collegiate alma maters. She first completed a bachelor’s degree at East Carolina University and went into the working world. From 2009-2015, she worked at Maria Parham Medical Center in Henderson in administrative roles, but eventually felt drawn to pursue a career on the clinical side. After enrolling at her hometown college, VGCC, she excelled in the rigorous, challenging Associate Degree Nursing program. Adcock earned a pair of academic scholarships from the VGCC Foundation (then called the Endowment Fund), one endowed in memory of Dr. and Mrs. Roy Noblin and the other in memory of Myrtle Jane Pruitt. In 2018, she not only graduated, but completed the program with among the highest grade point averages in her class.

Adcock then became a registered nurse in the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit at Duke University Hospital. “Who would have ever guessed that – with less than two years of experience as an ICU nurse – I’d be faced with a global pandemic, COVID-19?” Adcock reflected. “Being a Registered Nurse during the COVID outbreak of 2020 was one of the scariest times of my life.”

As Duke is home to one of the area’s leading, “level-one” trauma centers, the hospital was among the first to treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19, when very little was known about the virus and no vaccine was available.

“As fate would have it, I was the first RN on my unit to receive a COVID patient in April of 2020,” Adcock said. “The upside to being at Duke during this time was that we always had PPE (personal protective equipment) available.” Adcock recalled, “I went from being the first RN on my unit to treat a COVID patient to being a PPE expert the next night; that was a reality check for how serious things were. Though we were all scared, we persevered, without hesitation, because that’s what healthcare professionals do; we take on challenges, fearlessly.”

That led Adcock to another, very different challenge: completing a Bachelor’s of Nursing degree (BSN) in the middle of a global pandemic, while working full-time as an ICU nurse.

“In August of 2020, I enrolled in college again, full-time, as a student at Fayetteville State University in the ‘RN to BSN’ completion program, a fully online program designed for nurses with associate degrees,” Adcock said. “Full-time enrollment meant two classes every eight weeks, fast paced, and intense. Working as an ICU RN during a global pandemic while attending college full-time is far from easy. But I pushed through, mentally, physically, and emotionally, and am happy to say that I successfully completed my BSN in 12 months with a 4.0 GPA.”

Just three years into her career as a registered nurse, Adcock marvels that she has become one of the more senior staff nurses on her unit, which she called “a sometimes scary, but rewarding and humbling realization.”

She noted with gratitude that for her newest degree, she received assistance from her employer’s tuition assistance program. As she described it, that sort of “earned” institutional support reminded her of the scholarships she received while at VGCC, thanks to donations from local citizens. Those scholarships gave her “a tremendous amount of help during a career change and an opportunity that I didn’t know existed,” Adcock remarked. She expressed appreciation for the leadership of VGCC Foundation Executive Director Eddie Ferguson.

“I remain very grateful to VGCC and the college endowment for their early support of my nursing education and career, one that has allowed me greater independence, freedom and stability in my life,” Adcock said. “In the words of Benjamin Franklin, ‘an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.’”

For more information on giving to the VGCC Foundation, call (252) 738-3409 or mail contributions to P.O. Box 917, Henderson, NC 27536.

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