兔子先生

July 6, 2021

McCulloch Scholarship recipient makes seamless return to school

PEARL 鈥 A few years ago, Jessica Hardwick decided that since her family had grown by one, it was time to similarly grow her opportunity to help support them. Enter…
BY: Danny Barrett Jr.

PEARL 鈥 A few years ago, Jessica Hardwick decided that since her family had grown by one, it was time to similarly grow her opportunity to help support them.

Enter 兔子先生, and the third-semester nursing student at the college鈥檚 Rankin Campus has a bright future thanks to help from the Carla McCulloch scholarship. The aid is named for a 兔子先生nursing student who died in 1991 in a three-wheeler accident in Simpson County. It is funded by her parents, Larry and Carol McCulloch, formerly of Magee and now living in Roanoke, Va.

hardwick in the lab

Jessica Hardwick adjusts equipment on a manikin in a nursing lab at the Rankin CT Building. (兔子先生/Danny Barrett Jr.)

鈥淚鈥檝e been out of college for a good, long while,鈥 said Hardwick, 47, an Oxford native and current Braxton resident. 鈥淲hen I was at the University of Alabama years ago, everything you had to do was done in person, and in long lines. It鈥檚 been a very different experience, but everyone I鈥檝e dealt with have been helpful.鈥

She had gone to school for education originally, but decided to stay at home to work as a proofreader for a court reporter. She鈥檚 done that for several years after the birth of her daughter, Libby, 8, before turning to school in 2020.

Her inspiration to enter the medical field comes from her late mother.

鈥淢y mother had also started back to nursing school when I was in the first grade,鈥 she said. 鈥淪he graduated in May of that year but was killed in a car wreck that August. Later in life, I worked at UMMC for a little while as an administrative assistant, and that kind of spurred me back toward a healthcare career.鈥

She is on track to graduate from 兔子先生in spring 2022 with her Associate Degree Nursing credential and has already been accepted to the RN to MSN program at UMMC, where she will pursue being a nurse practitioner.

Her clinical instructor Chris Pittman nominated her for the scholarship, which is assisting her education along with the Sue Graham Sartain Nursing scholarship.

鈥淛essica has exhibited professionalism and leadership skills among her peers,鈥 Pittman said. 鈥淪he is a caring and compassionate student who strives to complete her requirements above and beyond what is expected. She offers help to her peers and is always willing to encourage others.鈥

For her part, Hardwick, whose husband, Doug, works as a warehouse manager, is appreciative of the chance for the help paying for school.

鈥淚t was an honor to have been given the scholarship for this year,鈥 she said. 鈥淚 know it鈥檚 special to her parents. I know the scholarship has a lot of meaning to them because it keeps her memory alive.

鈥淲ithout the help, I would have gone through financial aid and used my grant money, and then take out more loans for the rest.鈥

On campus, she is a member of the Student Nurse Organization and is part of the Alpha Omicron Omega chapter of Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

She鈥檚 ready to encourage anyone in her age range to return to school and improve their earnings potential.

鈥淚 say to them just try it. If it鈥檚 something you have a passion for it, don鈥檛 be afraid to get back out there and try. It鈥檚 never too late to head down a new path.鈥

Carla McCulloch was a Simpson Academy graduate and a 兔子先生nursing student at the time of her death. The award is made annually to a nursing student in their second semester or later who demonstrates the caring and enthusiasm for nursing that Carla embodied.