Gwen Davis selected Outstanding AlumnaSep 05, 2017
“Step out on faith!” says Gwen Davis, urging others considering heading back to college for a career change to follow her lead.
Davis, of Lexa, has been selected to represent Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas (PCCUA) as its 2016 Distinguished Alumna and will receive formal recognition by Arkansas Community Colleges (ACC) at its annual fall conference in Little Rock.
Davis already had an Associate’s degree from PCCUA and a Bachelor’s degree in business from Arkansas State University when she decided to switch gears and try something different. She stopped by Phillips College one day to talk with advisor Gwen McGhee (now retired). Even though Davis’ two sisters (both nurses) had tried to persuade Davis to do nursing, she didn’t think nursing was the right fit for her.
“I had already made up my mind that I could just get 20 additional credit hours, and I would be able manage my own daycare. But, Mrs. McGhee convinced me that I was the perfect person for the nursing profession. It really was the best decision for me, although I still wasn’t sure about it, when I left her office that day” she laughed.
Unlike teenagers going off to college, parents who choose to go back for a college degree face several different issues, such as the cost of college tuition on a family budget, the cost of childcare, and balancing college classes and family time. At the time she began nursing school, Davis had four young boys at home, so juggling nursing school, all of her kids’ activities, and working was challenging.
“The toughest part wasn’t the books,” recalled Davis, “It was working full-time and following my children and all of their activities. Wherever I went, my books went with me.”
Davis added that her mother and mother-in-law were a tremendous support system for her, and she had financial support through a PCCUA Helena Health Foundation Scholarship, the Career Pathways Initiative, and Arkansas Rehabilitation Services.
After completing her Associate’s Degree in nursing at PCCUA, Davis went on to complete her Master’s degree in nursing through the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She now works as a nurse practitioner for the Bell Family Practice in Helena. Davis’ oldest sons, Stanton and Stephon, have also graduated from PCCUA. Stanton graduated from ASU with a B.A. in agriculture, and Stephon is completing his bachelor’s degree at ASU in agriculture, also. Her third son, Kadarius, is currently attending PCCUA, and her youngest son, Kenyon, is a 10th grader at Barton High School this year.
“People always ask me if nursing school is hard,” Davis said. “And I always tell them, ‘It’s not hard; it’s challenging.’ There is so much negativity in the community. Don’t listen to it! Take the first step, and talk to a PCCUA advisor. I did, and it was one of the best decisions of my life!”