After Jean Bunch graduated from John A. Holmes High School in 1975, she married her high school sweetheart and started to work right away in a doctor’s office as a receptionist. Her job responsibilities consisted primarily of clerical work and it was during this time that her love for nursing blossomed. It was not until her second child was born in 1987 that she pursued her passion for nursing. With the support of her husband, she left her job and lived off her husband’s small salary, the little bit of retirement money that she had accumulated, as well as a part time babysitting job. Looking back Jean stated, “My parents and my husband’s parents were extremely supportive throughout this endeavor as I was a first generation college student in my family.” Jean entered COA in 1988 as a mother of two young children and quickly adapted to the routine of a being a non-traditional student. When asked about her initial thoughts about COA, Jean states, “At COA, students are embraced first as individuals, then as students. This kind of warmth and understanding isn’t always possible in large universities.” Jean worked hard taking general education courses preparing her for the Associate Degree Nursing (A.D.N.) Program curriculum. Her work paid off as she was accepted into the A.D.N. program in 1990. Two years later, Jean graduated, and “what a glorious day that was!”
While an A.D.N. student at COA, Jean received the Dr. L. Everette Sawyer Award of Excellence. She also received a “forgiven loan” from Chowan Hospital, in which she fulfilled the loan requirements as she was employed with Chowan Hospital upon graduation from COA.
After graduation from COA and employment with Chowan Hospital, it didn’t take Jean long to realize she wanted to further her education. Jean attended East Carolina University from 2004 through 2009 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education and Promotion. Jean currently works for Chowan Hospital’s Foundation as the Director of the TRU nicoTEEN Free Way, a teen tobacco use prevention and cessation initiative with the NC Health and Wellness Trust Fund.
When Jean was asked what she liked best about COA, she replied, “I loved the warmth of the staff, and the bonding and camaraderie of the nursing students and instructors. The education that I received at College of The Albemarle was rigorous, relevant, and remarkable! It prepared me not only for my career, but it also provided me real life skills to be successful, productive, and happy.”
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