Class of 2019: Jordan Albright follows her mother’s example with nursing degree

Jordan Albright.
Jordan Albright worked in environmental science for a decade before deciding to become a nurse. “I kept feeling like I wanted to do more work where I could advocate for people," she said. (Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

During a 1,000-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail, Jordan Albright committed herself to earning a nursing degree at Virginia Commonwealth University. The hard work paid off, and Albright will earn her Bachelor of Science in nursing this week. 

“I met quite a few military nurses on the trail,” Albright said. “They all told me to go get my degree and become a nurse.”

For Albright, the road to a nursing career has been long and winding. Her mother is a nurse so Albright has been around nursing all of her life. But rather than pursing a degree in nursing, Albright earned a bachelor’s in biology and a minor in environmental science from William & Mary. She had learned to love environmental science during fieldwork while an undergrad and decided on that career path. 

She held several different positions and focused on local environmental issues. Albright did trail maintenance and desert restoration. She also worked for a nonprofit where she helped classify trees in Washington, D.C. While she enjoyed the work, she kept feeling like she wanted something more and eventually looked to her mom’s career in nursing. 

“I had thought about that,” Albright said. “I kept feeling like I wanted to do more work where I could advocate for people. I wanted to work with people.”

She applied and was accepted into the rigorous accelerated program at the VCU School of Nursing. Before starting school, Albright sought one last big adventure because she knew her academic life would keep her in Richmond and bound to textbooks. She had dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail for a while and decided to hike the Southern portion from Georgia to West Virginia in 2016. It took three months.

“I knew when I went back to school, and I was going to be rooted in my career, I would not be able to go for a long hike,” Albright said.

She enjoyed life on the trail and relished the solitude.

After the hike, she moved to Richmond and immediately started the accelerated program, which is designed for someone who already has a degree. It’s intense and challenging, Albright said. 

She studied hard and learned about the world of nursing. She leaned on her mom and her experience as a nurse. Albright asked her mom specific anatomy questions, but also inquired about life in nursing.

Albright also found a direction for her career while at school. During her clinical work, she spent time in the Acute Care Unit at VCU Health. She enjoyed the work, and management liked her. Shortly before graduation, she interviewed  and accepted a position within the unit. 

“I always knew I wanted to work within a hospital,” Albright said. “That was something my mom had encouraged me to do.”

She enjoys the environment on the Acute Care Unit and will start work shortly after New Year’s. She knows that she still has a lot to learn about nursing and looks forward to continuing her career at VCU Health. Her family is proud of her hard work and everyone is planning to attend the graduation ceremony, Albright said.

“My family is proud of me but Mom is really proud of me becoming a nurse.”

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