Stashawna Sutton was prepared to be a certified nursing assistant through her high school allied health program, but knew she wanted to do more than that. Sutton said she had the opportunity to follow a nurse at Cape Fear Hospital and it was then that she fell in love with nursing.
“I knew I wanted to do something in health care,” said Sutton. “I thought at one time I would like to be like my mom and go in the phlebotomist route, but I did not want to deal with blood all day.” The patient interaction guided Sutton towards the path of nursing.
In addition to her coursework, Sutton serves on the College of Nursing Student Leadership Council and as an executive member of the Student Pirate Club.
Since 2011, she’s been involved with the Student Pirate Club and works hard to get other students to actively participate and support every ECU sport. She initially became an executive member of the Student Pirate Club to get more involved on campus and branch out. Now, she loves the people she works with and encourages future Pirates to “find that one thing that fits and makes you love this school and stick with it.”
“Choosing to come to ECU has been one of the greatest decisions of my life,” said Sutton.
Supporting Pirate football is one of Sutton’s passions; another is going to her clinical class – the class where she “gets to put everything together and get a reality check.” The course is designed to provide nursing students many hours of training at local hospitals, through partnerships between the College of Nursing and hospitals in eastern North Carolina.
Originally Sutton was focused on becoming a pediatric nurse, until the beginning of the clinical rounds this semester lead her in a different path. “Doing this clinical round was a real ‘aha’ moment for me,” Sutton said about her decision to work in neonatal pediatrics. Sutton said she had a feeling that she was made to work with newborns.
Now in her third semester of nursing school, Sutton is a representative for the May 2014 class on the Student Leadership Council. As a member of this student organization, Sutton is a liaison between her classmates and the faculty. She provides her peers with the opportunity to voice their concerns through the proper channels.
In this position, she gets to see and meet classmates. As a council member, she also plans gatherings for the nursing majors and teachers such as the first Pirate Nurse 5K last spring. Sutton said a portion of the funds raised at the 5K went towards scholarships for nursing students. Sutton said she enjoys doing those activities because nursing students study so much that they need the opportunity to relax and mingle with each other and their faculty.
What is it like being a College of Nursing Student?
They [The College of Nursing] pick students that have put forth the effort to focus on their education, so that’s one thing. As hard as it is, there are so many places that say, “If you graduated from ECU, we know you did not play around,” so I love it and the recognition.
What made you choose ECU?
When I came here, I was in love with the campus. I love how everybody was so nice and generous. I was planning on going to Chapel Hill and I visited there, but when I came here I said, “No, this is where I’m supposed to be.” I love the campus and I love everything that ECU provides for their students to help them succeed.
What makes you proud to be a Pirate?
Everybody knows East Carolina. We’re known for our football, our education, for everything. I just love the standing that it has. It’s not like most schools. When I go back to Fayetteville and I’m wearing an ECU shirt, I always run into an alumni or a friend of an alumni. I just love that hometown feel and knowing that wherever I go, people really respect the school.
What would you tell a prospective student about ECU?
I would say ECU has so much to offer and you need to find every resource. There are so many things to get involved in that fits anybody’s personality. Find that one thing that fits and makes you love this school and stick with it. Also, as much fun as ECU is, you’re here for an education. Have fun and keep a good balance because these are the best four years of your life.
How has ECU helped prepare you for your career?
Time management. You know, when your parents aren’t here you have to know what you’re going to do. I have to say to myself, “I will set some time do this,” and have some time to go out and that was a big adjustment for me. My parents always told me when it was time to do something. But school has helped me realize that I have to depend on myself, because that’s what I have to do out in the real world.
Is there anything at ECU you wish everyone could experience?
A football game. I think that should be mandatory for people to go. Nothing can compare to an ECU football game. It’s crazy and I love it.
When you graduate, what will you miss most about ECU?
I will miss the school spirit and having access to everything and my friends, and the bonding and security that ECU provides for us. I will definitely miss all of that and the connections we can make [as students].
Written by: Jamitress Bowden
Photography by: Jay Clark
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Stashawna hopes her ECU education will help her obtain her dream of becoming a neonatal nurse.