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Nursing grad knows her dad will be there in spirit

Meg SimmonsJust like her father, Meg Simmons will graduate from Tidewater Community College’s nursing program.

Her mother, Kathryn, sisters Heidi and Anne, brother Neale and a plethora of extended family will celebrate her moment at TCC’s graduation ceremony on December 18 at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Dad, she’s sure, will watch from above.

TCC alumnus Mack Simmons died of a heart attack in 2006, one day before Meg started at Granby High School in Norfolk. Through nursing, she connects to his memory and shares his commitment for touching lives by helping others.

“My dad was so good at nursing; he got so many compliments from his patients,” Simmons said. “I hope I can be half the nurse he was.”

Simmons recollects eating dinner with her mom when her dad would walk in, still in his scrubs. She wore her own set of scrubs on Halloween.

“I always wanted to be like Dad,” said Simmons, whose graduation cap is a testimony to him. Spelled out in beads are the words, “To Mom, my strongest support and inspiration.” Also beaded out in another corner of the cap, her graduation year, 2014, and underneath, his graduation year, 1994, along with “xoxo,”  the way he always signed cards to her.

Mack Simmons’ last job was at Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center on the intensive care/neurology floor. Meg recently finished her preceptorship at DePaul Medical Center, and even though she was placed randomly, it was also in intensive care/neurology.

“I got more experience in those six weeks than in any part of the program,” said Simmons, who spent three 12-hour days per week shadowing another nurse.

Simmons plans to pursue her bachelor’s in nursing at Old Dominion University starting in summer 2015. She’s enjoyed what she calls many of the “phenomenal teachers” at TCC. The camaraderie among the nursing students, particularly the humor they found in stressful situation, carried her through the rougher times.

She lauds the facilities around Hampton Roads where she completed her clinical studies, and is grateful for one nurse at Sentara Obici who encouraged her to keep challenging herself when she had doubts.

But admittedly, the biggest push came from her parents. Her mother holds a biology degree from Old Dominion and was able to help her with the anatomy courses.

Every morning before class, Simmons would walk past her dad’s picture in the family home. Sometimes, she would talk to it. “If I had a test, I’d tell him, ‘Dad, you have to get me through this.’ We’ll always have a connection.”

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