I must admit, I’m probably one of the proudest dads in the world because my daughter followed in my footsteps. Her name was Jocelyn Bennett: but, as of October 2002 she became Jocelyn White, MSN, RN (through marriage and graduation). Jocelyn grew up in a small town in South Carolina, and since her mom was a public-school teacher, Jocelyn was destined to do the same. However, things don’t always work out the way we intend.
A few days ago during our weekly call, I mentioned that I was writing a human-interest story and that I thought her journey into the nursing profession would make a good read. Initially she thought I was joking. Then after all the laughter she expressed a humbled honor to be interviewed.
So, here we go. Enjoy the ride!
Picture this: I finished my undergrad at South Carolina State University then moved to Columbia, SC. This was the next step of my new career path, working as a surgical sterilization tech, as I studied at USC master’s program. Then, suddenly, the world stops moving. This is the predicament I faced in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic descended upon the globe. All of my planned meetings, interviews, and shadowing opportunities came to a screeching halt. The hospital job that I knew was a “sure thing” was suddenly swept from under my feet as my department was deemed “nonessential.” I was floated to different areas in the hospital doing “mindless assignments.” I felt as if I was not advancing as I thought I should. I was feeling disappointed, unfulfilled, and my hopes were dashed. But God had other plans.
One night as I was furloughed, I woke up out of a deep sleep bothered and could not get back to sleep. Something led me back to the university website that I’d been exploring for months in efforts to solidify my plans. That night a new program had been added to the website that I had not seen before. It was a program for individuals with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees who wanted to pursue nursing. As I read, I became more and more excited. I said a quick prayer and emailed the program liaison that night. By the end of the week, I was enrolled in the prerequisite courses I needed to qualify for application. When the time came to submit my formal application to the program, I had my essays, transcripts and references ready. In the two weeks of open application, all my references responded except one. The deadline was coming up and I was becoming anxious. In that moment, God provided a ram in the bush. A research mentor that I’d reached out to as an alternate reference, happened to check his email from his previous employer hours before I had to submit. He reached out to me and provided a soaring recommendation on my behalf. Because of this unexpected blessing, I was chosen to be one of thirty-two in the first Master’s Entry to Practice Nursing program at the University of South Carolina.
Before beginning my studies, I was faced with another predicament. I was currently a full-time employee in a position that required regular hours, while my program would require a considerable chunk of my time. Though I didn’t know how I would be able to balance my schedule, I knew there was something I needed to do. This was something that God placed on the manager’s heart as well. Management was willing to work with crazy, alternating hours because, as he put it, “this is something that you need to do, and I fully support your efforts”.
During my matriculation, I faced many challenges, both educational and personal. There were many situations that I simply didn’t know how I’d overcome. But, at every turn, things fell into place right in the nick of time. A promise that I kept close to me was, “For I know the plans I have for you…”. Even though I didn’t know how all things would come together, I held fast to the faith that they were working for my good.
Throughout my journey, I grew a love for women’s healthcare. During my capstone semester, I had the privilege of working a postpartum/GYN unit. This helped solidify my choice. I had applied to several units, but this is where I wanted to be. At the end of my last clinical shift, the manager requested to see me in her office. This was to be an informal conversation about my experience on the unit. I mentioned my interest in joining and was offered the only new grad position on the spot.
This entire journey started with a giant leap of faith. Throughout my experience my faith has been shaken and strengthened on many occasions. The promise that I was taught in my childhood, the very thing that got me through.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”