When college becomes a family affair

The average college student shudders at the thought of mom and dad attending classes with him or her. But the Baughn family opted to make attending Northeast State an adventure.

Dave Baughn, his wife, Lisa, and their daughter Emily will all walk the stage at Northeast State’s graduation commencement ceremony on May 12.

“We are so excited to get to graduate together,” said Lisa Baughn. “We have been blessed by Northeast State for so many people to come into our lives.”

A computer network engineer by profession, Dave returned to college to fulfill a promise to his employer and earn his associate degree in Network Engineering. Lisa and Emily are both Pre-Nursing majors planning to articulate to a nearby four-year college to complete their bachelor’s degree.

Relocating to East Tennessee from California in 2006, the family experienced some mild culture shock. As homeschooled student, however, Emily didn’t face major changes of new classmates or subjects. She credits her parents with instilling an attitude of determination in her from a young age.

“It is so important to start and finish what you do and don’t give up when it gets hard,” said Emily. “Everyone should be encouraged not to settle for second best.”

Dave, Emily, and Lisa Baughn
Dave, Emily, and Lisa Baughn

Dave enrolled first at Northeast State while he was working full-time at Wellmont Health Systems. He accepted a promotion contingent on his earning a degree. His perseverance – and the family’s – was tested with his 40+ hours work weeks while carrying a full-time load of no less than 12 credit hours per semester.

“A degree is something no one can take away from you,” said Dave Baughn. “That is what we told Emily and what I would press upon every person thinking about enrolling at Northeast State.”

Lisa and her daughter enrolled the same semester and wound up seeking out the same major of Pre-Nursing. A professional writer and speaker, Lisa acknowledged a bit of apprehension entering college and pursuing the sciences.

“I spent 12 years as a home-school mom so all this was new to me,” she said. “I’m a liberal arts girl.”

A series of events pushed Lisa toward the nursing profession. Perhaps the most profound being her daughter’s own critical health diagnosis three years ago. Emily suffered a traumatic brain injury and subsequent brain tumor. The injury damaged her vision permanently and forced her relearn basic motor skills and even how to read and write. While treatments were successful without surgical intervention, Emily said most health care professionals told her to accept living a diminished life.

“I was told I’d never go to college, but I told them I was going,” said Emily. “We give up on people too easily for a variety of reasons.”

Mom and daughter jumped into the challenging classes of Anatomy and Physiology I and II classes as well as Chemistry classes. Both mom and daughter praised Northeast State faculty members Dr. Brent Lockhart and Dr. Ed Osborne as top instructors and influences.

“We decided to take the hard stuff,” said Lisa. “It is not one person. It is a team of us doing it.”

Despite getting accustomed to new professors for every class, Emily said she transitioned well from the home school environment into college. She also visited the College’s Center for Students with Disabilities to take advantage of available learning services.

Emily has bounced back marvelously well as a cum laude graduate with a 3.5 grade point average while carrying 22 credit hours this spring. She added her decision to enter the nursing profession came from her own experiences in the health care.

“I want to be the person to be there for someone who is fearful or coming out of something in pain,” said Emily. “I want them to know I’m there to care for them and they have an advocate.”

Team Baugh successfully earned their associate degrees together. The same way they tackle life in general with each other and their beloved dogs Hunter and Savannah.

“God has provided for us every step of the way,” said Lisa Baughn. “It has been a wonderful experience and a blessing to be at Northeast State.”

Northeast State nursing students get their pins

Northeast State recognized the newest class of Nursing Division graduates at the 2012 Pinning Ceremony held Monday night at the WRCPA Theater in Blountville.

In the Dean’s charge to the graduates, Nursing Division Dean Dr. Melessia Webb reminded students the easiest choice was not always the best one. She challenged graduates to make their decisions carefully and be accountable for their choices.

The triumph and kinship between nursing graduates.

“Decisions determine destinies,” she told the class of 39 students. “The decision to enroll in the nursing program was a very large decision – all the decisions you have made come together to bring you to where you are tonight.”

Northeast State Nursing graduates for 2012 are: Carey Banks, Amanda Basham, Kristi Begley, Jennifer Blumberg, Tina Bowery, Cynthia Boyd, Joshua Buck, Holly Byrd, Shannon Charlton, Ashley Day, John Dowling, Tabitha Fisher, Courtney Griffin, Heather Grindstaff, Shea Holly, Miriam Humphrey, Sue Lowe, Carl McCoy, Ronnie McRae, Julie Moore, Ashley Morelock, Blayne Murrell, Kymberly Nelsen, Peter Olsen Selena Parrott, Whitney Pate, Sheila Quillen, Betsey Ritz, Teresa Schneweis, Hayley Shields, Matthew Smith, Jessica Smith, Whitney Snyder, Denise Sosnoski, Samuel Vaughn, Laura Wagner, Karri Wingfield, Kenneth Worley, Jr., and Andrew Worrell.

A new class of Northeast State nurses.

The pinning ceremony provided a symbolic welcoming of new nurses into the profession. Each graduating student received a Northeast State Nursing pin on his or her white lab coat signifying completion of the associate of applied science degree program.

Selected to answer the Dean’s charge on behalf of the graduates was student Samuel Vaughn.  He thanked the nursing faculty, his classmates, and all their families for their support during trying times of nursing school.

“About this time two years each of us made a huge decision when with fingers crossed and breath held, we mailed off our nursing school applications,” said Vaughn.  “That now brings us to this night – we are graduate nurses.”

Nursing students received their pins from Dr. Melessia Webb.

Andrew Worrell received the program’s Outstanding Student Award.   Betsey Ritz received the Adult Learner of the Year Award.  Heather Grindstaff won the Nursing academic award.

The nursing students receive their diplomas Tuesday night at the College’s spring commencement ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. at Mountains State Health Alliance Athletic Center on the campus of East Tennessee State University.

“We have endured so much and have so much to be proud of,” Vaughn told the audience. “Now let’s go make the decision to be the best nurses in the area.”