Cumberland University

Jennifer Quigley (Class of 2008)

L to R:  Scott Lawrence, Jennifer Quigley, Paul Stumb

What does Cumberland University mean to you and how do you feel about being recognized as the recipient of the 2017 Award of Excellence in Nursing and Health Professions?

As a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a nurse just like my mother. I was 10 years old when I watched her walk across the stage to receive her degree. She was an adult learner with two children, defying the odds, and finally receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Cumberland University. Naturally, I wanted to follow in her footsteps, which of course meant I would attend her alma mater. To me, Cumberland University means family, opportunity, second chances, as well as potential. To expand upon inner untapped potential to gain a foundation and knowledge that will take you wherever your path is meant to lead. I used the drive my mom exhibited to uproot a stagnant "what is" and strive for "what could be." Cumberland gave me the foundation to make her proud, and to rise above the mentality of "it is how it always was" and pursue further than ever before, to change the path of nursing, and make it easier and better for both nurses and patients entrusted in our care. It was the drive for education that Cumberland instilled in me that made me not want to stop at one degree, but continue to a terminal degree in the field to ensure I was giving the best possible care to my patients and paving the way for fellow nurses. To be recognized for this by the University that started it all is humbling, as well as gratifying. It makes me want to continue further to ensure my work reaches more in the community, and hopefully inspires young nurses and health professionals to pave new paths and make health care great again. 

Do you have any special memories or stories about Cumberland that you would like to share? Favorite professor, coach, staff member that greatly influenced you?

The faculty and professors at Cumberland University truly have the success and interest of their students at heart. They take pride in their city and want to pass that to the ones they teach. One of my fond memories was in Rick Bell's class where we teamed up for a Lebanon scavenger hunt, that took us from Highway 109 to Highway 231 uncovering interesting history of our own city. One of my most cherished nursing professors was Ms. Fay McRady. She was supposed to be retiring when my mom was her student 10 years prior to me gracing her classroom. I think she may have finally thrown in her little white hat, but I doubt she has gone far and remains in the hearts of all of her students. Her love for community health nursing inspired my love for rural health and global health nursing.

Tell us about your current and past jobs and how Cumberland may have helped you prepare for success.

Someone once told me a nursing degree from Cumberland would take me anywhere I wanted to go. Upon graduation, I was one of Vanderbilt University Medical Center's first critical care nurse residents. I was accompanied by graduate nurses from around the globe, including Australia. The elite nature of the program was taken for granted at first, but because of my education, I was granted the chance to work at one of America's top Level 1 hospitals which granted me the opportunity to see all the rare disorders and diseases that we only studied about in school. I then had the opportunity to return the favor and precept senior practicum students from Cumberland University and surrounding nursing schools. I will have to say, Cumberland nursing students are among the most prepared and knowledgeable students that I had the opportunity to precept. It speaks highly to the red eye over-night studying, countless NCLEX study questions, and ruthless nursing exams which all questions start with "of the following RIGHT answers which is BEST." I am here to tell you, those are very helpful when you are in front of a real life situation in which you are the nurse in charge having to decide which action sequence will save a person's life. From my five years working at Vanderbilt, five years at Centennial Medical Center, Belmont University's first Fellowship in Global health, earning a Doctorate in Nursing, to my own practice in primary care, Cumberland has created the foundation that inspired growth in me and the desire to change the face of nursing and continue the global impact as the most trusted professionals.