Virginia Man Overcomes Obstacles and Earns a Nursing Degree | Virginia News
By JIM SACCO, Daily News-Record
HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) – There were the struggles with alcohol and the problems – personal and legal – that come with it.
And though 26-year-old Jacob Turner doesn’t wear his past like a badge of honor hidden under his Blue Ridge Community College graduation gown, he makes sure he doesn’t forget it.
It is these issues, and how he overcame them, that tell the story of his turnaround.
“It’s something that reminds me of what I never want to go back to,” Turner said.
The May 16 graduation ceremony at the Atlantic Union Bank Center on the James Madison University campus was not the bath that washed away all those past issues for Turner. With a degree in nursing, a full-time job at Augusta Health in Fishersville, and a soon-to-be 5-year-old daughter, Mirabella, her cleanup has only just begun.
“I didn’t think I would ever be a nurse,” Turner said. “No desire to be a nurse. I wanted to do social work or something related to social services.
Then he got married and his partner, a type 1 diabetic, went over all of his medical needs, which worsened during the pregnancy. Then came Mirabella, and as her daughter gave birth at Sentara RMH Medical Center, Turner was quickly inspired by the facility’s nurses.
“Just everything the nurses did there,” he said.
The new chapter in Turner’s story began around 6:49 p.m. when he heard his name called and it was his chance to be one of more than 200 graduates who walked through the stage at the 54th annual ceremony. opening of the BRCC.
The road so far has been long. A 2014 graduate of Granby High School in Norfolk, Turner knew he didn’t want to stay home and go to college, so he packed his bags and enrolled at Bridgewater College until difficulties financial forces him to quit his freshman year just as he and his partner started dating. He made ends meet working at a restaurant, hardware store and landscaping company.
It’s a decision he doesn’t regret.
“Taking time has really allowed me to focus on saving those funds and figuring out what to do with my life,” Turner said.
And, yes, there were obstacles along the way. Originally, the lack of clinical studies prevented Turner from being accepted into the nursing program. After becoming a certified practical nurse, the experience came with a job in a nursing home.
“Finally,” he said, “I was accepted.”
Since then there has been a steady rise on the right path. After doing poorly in his labor and nursing course — “Go figure it out,” Turner laughed — he took the course again in fall 2021 and “passed it.”
Later, he was named Support Staff of the Year at Augusta Health and got that full-time job in their medical surgery unit.
When his name was called during the graduation ceremony, he smiled, slowly walked across the stage and shook hands with John Downey, president of Blue Ridge Community College.
“It’s been like a soul trip for me,” Turner said. “I couldn’t have done any of this without the massive support system I have. You can overcome failures.
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