Wednesday, 11 August 2021 11:58

RichmondCC nursing graduate follows longtime dreams of becoming a nurse

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Tammy Smith started her educational journey at RichmondCC in 2001 and is now a nurse manager with FirstHealth. Tammy Smith started her educational journey at RichmondCC in 2001 and is now a nurse manager with FirstHealth. RichmondCC

HAMLET — Richmond County native and first generation college student Tammy Smith knew as a little girl that one day she would become a nurse. Today, she is employed with FirstHealth as nurse manager of a medical/surgical unit that is designated to care for patients with COVID.

When Smith enrolled at Richmond Community College, she was working as a waitress but always knew she wanted to do more and make a difference in people’s lives. In 2001, she started her educational journey at RichmondCC to pursue her nursing degree.

“After high school, I enrolled in RCC and obtained my CNA license and phlebotomy certification. These opportunities afforded me insight into the patient care experience. I went this route because of my desire to be in the healthcare field. Once complete, I knew that I still dreamed of becoming a nurse and these stepping stones helped encourage my decision, “said Smith.

As if working full-time as a waitress and supporting herself financially through nursing school wasn’t challenging enough, she suffered the loss of loved ones while in enrolled at RichmondCC.

Within a two-year period following high school, her father passed away in 2004 and her grandmother and mother in 2005. Suddenly she found herself as the backbone of her extended family. With the help of the financial aid department at RichmondCC, they were able to help guide her through the process of applying for financial aid which helped relieve some of the financial burden of college. 

“If I had been anywhere other than RCC, I would not have been able to care for and spend time with my family during these years,” she said. “Those are moments that I am so grateful for.” 

“RCC has a culture of support and compassion. The faculty encouraged me through the hardest time in my life. Throughout the trenches of nursing school, the nursing instructors prepared me for a demanding work force. I aspire to make a difference in the lives of those I encounter as much as they did mine,” said Smith.

Smith graduated from RichmondCC in 2008 with her Associate Degree in Nursing and then earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Winston-Salem State University. She didn’t stop there. When she decided to continue on her educational journey in nursing, she reached out to Sharon Goodman, vice president of Student Services, for information on elective classes she needed to work towards her master’s degree. She was able to complete all of her electives through RichmondCC and in 2019, she earned her MSN in Nursing Leadership and Management through Western Governors University.

“When you are in a high school, everyone dreams of the college experience. Most students venture to schools, fraternities, sororities, sports, and what they assume to be a higher standard of education. I am forever grateful that I chose to go to the community college in my hometown. I received a firm foundation of education that I have been able to build upon throughout my career,” she said.

“As a new graduate nurse, I was successful in my early career, and I have worked hard to earn my current position and I am so proud to say that I am a RCC Alumni.”

Nursing Programs

RichmondCC offers Practical Nursing and Associate Degree Nursing, as well as two pathways to becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant. Applications are now open for the August 2022 nursing class cohort. For more information about the nursing or other health programs, contact Dean of Allied Health and Human Services Janet Sims at 910-410-1889 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.