Family Prediction Comes True for Two Generations
A natural talent for nurturing others led both Deb Beckman and her daughter, Jennifer, into the nursing field via Columbia State Community College, but not in the order you might expect.
Like a lot of young people, Deb put marriage and family before college. In 1977, she both graduated from Loretto High School and got married – and just three years later was the mother of two children.
“My dad, W.R. White, told people from the time I was a little girl that I would be a nurse,” said Beckman. “I’m not sure why he felt that was true, but he was always saying it. Truthfully, I just never thought I could slide a needle into someone’s vein for an IV.” She used her skills instead as a volunteer at her children’s schools.
Deb recalled her father’s words as Jennifer grew up. “In a lot of ways she always showed an interest . . . in high school she asked for the new edition of Doctors’ Home Remedies for Christmas every year.”
So it was no great surprise when Deb’s daughter Jennifer chose to enter the nursing program at Columbia State. “It was close and convenient, and a lot of my friends were going there,” Jennifer said. “Everybody knew everybody – I had a ball at Columbia State.” She also says Columbia State helped her to become “very well prepared academically” for two more years of study at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, where she earned a Bachelor in Nursing.
The Beckmans had two children in college at the time, with son Tyler entering freshman studies at Vanderbilt. “I decided then that I needed to go to college myself. So at the end of his freshman year I started. I was scared at the beginning, thinking it would be just young students in my classes.”
What she found at Columbia State were many students like herself. She was even comfortable enough to follow her daughter’s lead into nursing, thanks in part to instructors “who became like friends.” Dr. Brian Long, now retired, taught a chemistry course that she is sorry she missed. “I didn’t need the class, of course, but even after I graduated I wanted to go back and take Chemistry under him. He was known for that class.”
Deb’s father lived only long enough to see Jennifer working as a nurse, but he probably wouldn’t be surprised that they both work with the smallest, most fragile patients. Deb now works in the nursery/pediatric unit at Maury Regional, and Jennifer has worked for seven years in Vanderbilt’s neonatal intensive care unit. A year ago, she joined the department’s transport – life flight team, traveling by helicopter to outlying communities to accompany infants being flown to Vanderbilt.