Feb 11th, 2021
Cindy Roberson couldn't be prouder as she watched her son, Jake, graduate with an Associate Degree in Nursing from Jackson State Community College in December 2019. She felt similar pride when Jake was named the 2020 Rookie of the Year by the West Tennessee Healthcare Emergency Department, where he works as a registered nurse.
She knows firsthand the hard work required to graduate from Jackson State's nursing program and her son's commitment to his job. Roberson was a member of Jackson State's first nursing class in Fall 1990 and, after many years of working as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner, she is now an instructor in the college's nursing program.
"To say I'm proud of what Jake has accomplished is an understatement," Roberson said. "What really makes me happy is that he loves his job, and he's really good at what he is doing."
Both credit Jackson State's nursing program for providing the foundation for their nursing careers.
Jake was considered a non-traditional student when he entered the program. He had worked in another career, was married, and had two children. His mother, who was already teaching at Jackson State, suggested he try the college's nursing program. It was a good fit.
"I chose nursing because of my son," Jake said. "When my son was born, he had complications at birth and for a few years after. During that time, we saw many nurses who took care of him and loved him. I thought to myself, 'I want to be that nurse who cares for others in those scary times.' "
Cindy Roberson started taking courses at Jackson State in 1988. She had been studying at a four-year college when she decided to come back home because she missed her family.
She got involved in college activities. She was a basketball cheerleader, a member of Jackson State Singers, and the student representative to the Tennessee Board of Regents. As Miss Jackson State 1989, she represented the college in the Miss Tennessee Pageant.
"The school was smaller then," she said. "I loved being there. I just got to do so many things that shaped my young adulthood in a positive way."
She liked her science classes. When Jackson State started its nursing program, she applied and was accepted into the first class. It took her three instead of two years to complete the rigorous program because she married her husband, Brad, and then had a baby, Jake. The Robersons later had a daughter, Hope, who now works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
After graduation, Roberson worked ten years as an RN. She earned her bachelor's degree in nursing by attending night classes at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Roberson then earned her master's degree at the University of South Alabama and became a psychiatric nurse practitioner. She was working at Pathways when she was offered a faculty position at Jackson State seven years ago. "I came full circle," she said.
She is part of a team of instructors; part of her role is to teach the mental health component. Though Jake was in her classroom, she was not involved in his clinical evaluations.
She recommends Jackson State for students interested in health care careers. "The focus here is student success," Roberson said. "I can't think of any faculty member here not invested in student success."
The nursing program, which was challenging when she was a student, "is still challenging," she said. "It's not a walk in the park."
Her son agrees: "For anyone considering Jackson State, I would say you are going to get a great education. You are going to get clinical experiences that you wouldn't get at other schools, which ultimately prepare you better for your nursing career. You are going to be prepared for your NCLEX. There will be many long nights studying, but it will be worth it."