Alumni Spotlight: Tucker Vaught | Cumberland University

Alumni Spotlight: Tucker Vaught

Tucker Vaught graduated from Cumberland University in May 2019. Tucker has the distinction of being a Jim and Martha Bradshaw Scholar and a Dr. Thomas Richard Puryear, M.D. Scholar.  He works in the Neuromedical/Neurosurgical ICU at Erlanger Health Systems in Chattanooga, TN, as a Registered Nurse. He is currently studying for specific nursing certifications for graduate school. Tucker met his wife, Elora, at Cumberland and she graduated in May 2018. Elora is a Landis and B.B. Gullett Scholar. She is in her third semester studying physical therapy at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

Tucker stated, “Nursing is a very unusual field. It is a profession where continuous education is a necessity and having a curious mind is key for any position. I originally wanted to major in nursing because I wanted an environment that demanded the utmost focus in preparation for saving lives. Education itself is very important, but knowing that your knowledge can directly affect the patient’s outcome makes it essential.”  

His training at Cumberland prepared him for his role as a nurse. Tucker stated, “Nursing should be the poster child for ‘jack of all trades’. I have come to the conclusion that it is somewhat expected that school cannot prepare you for everything and that the first year of working as a nurse is taxing. I am constantly being redeployed into different ICUs, staffing issues, and being expected to learn on the fly with minimal assistance. I may be a ‘master of none’ but at least I can help in some way for every situation.”  Tucker, like most Cumberland graduates, has a servant’s heart and believes in the importance of helping others. 

More recently, he has experienced the impact of coronavirus.  Tucker explained, “The coronavirus is an important subject especially in the ICU setting. My hospital has made many changes involving visitations, mask requirements, and staffing for ICU nurses. I have been floated to different ICUs in order for the hospital to manage staffing ratios. The virus is something everyone should take seriously regardless of age, coming from a perspective that has witnessed its capability in destroying the human body. With that being said, I believe every individual is capable of measuring his or her own risk and that with certain precautions we can soon be back to normalcy. Tennesseans have taken the coronavirus seriously, but not lost their humanity or ability to reason logically.”

While at CU, Tucker received an exceptional education and college experience.  According to Tucker, “It [Cumberland] is a system where students are comfortable enough to express their concerns and help build the way for future students. I specifically enjoyed Cumberland’s small class sizes and the numerous teachers who went out of their way to help each student.”

During nursing school, Tucker worked between 30 and 36 hours each week. Many nursing students experience the stress of working and completing their academics and degree.  It is not easy to juggle personal responsibilities while also managing to financially support yourself and study.  Tucker commented, “It was extremely stressful in that I wanted to earn income for school, but I was terrified that it would reflect in my grades. Luckily, I was still able to graduate magna cum laude from nursing school and pay for most of my school before I graduated. The Bradshaw Scholarship was fundamental in my process of completing my degree. It was so meaningful because it provided a helping hand in removing the burden of debt. The ability to focus on school while simultaneously knowing that there is not a huge luggage of debt at the end speaks volumes. A scholarship is more than just money; it is a helping hand that helps propel you forward toward your goal.”

Julie Windmiller, one of Tucker’s professors, enriched his passion for learning while he was a student and instilled in him an excitement and dedication to continue his education after graduation.  Tucker mentioned, “Her in-depth focus on a controlled environment was essential in my nursing courses, but her ability to relate to each student made her stand out.”  

Nowadays, Tucker and Elora’s nights are spent studying and dreaming about the day when they can relax and no longer worry about the pressures of school.   

Thank you, Tucker, for your diligence and passion in caring for your patients and continuing your education for the wellbeing of others.

Written by Courtney Vick, Senior Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations, June 11, 2020