Release Date: 
Monday, September 24, 2018

"I never met a more deserving student"

Headshot of Sandra Gibson

As a child, HFC alumna Sandra Gibson dreamed of becoming a doctor and attending Fisk University, a private, historically black university in Nashville, TN. As an adult, she's found a better dream: becoming a nurse and attending HFC.

“In life, you travel many roads -- roads that lead to different destinations and different opportunities,” explained Gibson, of Detroit. “After starting a family, I stayed home and raised my four children. With the reality of my last child leaving for college, I decided to accomplish a few goals for myself. I felt it was too late to become a physician, but I wasn't sure I wanted to become a nurse. I was afraid I might be "settling." I didn’t know how wrong I was! Nursing has afforded me the opportunity to help people heal. It is much more hands-on than being a physician.”

The greatest feeling

Gibson described how HFC’s nursing program is different from other programs.

“Nursing isn’t like social studies or English. You have to apply the things you learn in a real-life health setting. It’s hard to transition to that line of thinking,” she said. “It was a hard, arduous program, but also a rewarding one. I wish I had enrolled earlier. Anyone who wants to succeed will need to stay focused and surround themselves with positive people who have their eye on graduating and being an effective nurse.

"At the end of the day, knowing you helped someone is the greatest feeling. That’s something that can’t ever be replaced or ever taken away.”

An alumna of John J. Pershing High School in Detroit, Gibson is a registered nurse at Beaumont Hospital in Wayne in its intermediate medical center. She graduated from HFC May 6 and was offered the job at Beaumont May 14. She will pursue her undergraduate degree in nursing from Eastern Michigan University in early 2019.

“I love it! It’s very rewarding!” said Gibson. “You never know what will happen – you’re always on the brink of something. It’s a high-energy environment. Anything can happen at any given moment. It’s exciting. I feel like Columbo (the titular detective in the 1968-79 TV series played by Peter Falk) when I receive the different medical reports and have to apply ADPIE (assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation) to keep the patient healthy. Applying all the things you learn at HFC Nursing is much like puzzle pieces fitting together.”

It takes a village

During her time at HFC, Gibson lost her two sisters within five months of each other. The temptation to quit school was strong, but she gutted it out. In fact, the deaths of her sisters served as even more incentive for her to finish the program and become a nurse.

“At HFC, what has impressed me is the atmosphere of the College; the professors care about the students,” said Gibson. “It takes a village to raise a child, no matter how old that child is. It also takes a village to raise a nurse. I cannot begin to tell you the high regard in which I hold the professors. They are all phenomenal. Dean Susan Shunkwiler, Cathy Gangarossa, and Janice Bartos were pivotal in my success. I shall never forget the sharing, support and tools that they afforded me – AMAZING! I will use all of these resources along my trek of ‘carrying the lamp.’ At graduation, we were welcomed as colleagues into the profession of nursing. To me, that speaks volumes about this program.”

Gangarossa, a nursing professor at HFC and Student Nurses Association (SNA) advisor, praised Gibson.

“I had the privilege of meeting Sandra when she was in my class and clinical group,” said Gangarossa. “She struggled, but was so determined to succeed. She was graceful, kind to everyone, and she always smiled, despite whatever was going on in her personal life. Becoming a nurse was her ticket to freedom. She worked so hard to be successful in my class, and when she passed, I don’t know who was happier. I had the honor of pinning this special student at her pinning ceremony, and I don’t think I have ever met a more deserving student. She will always hold a special place in my heart because of her hard work and determination.”