Published on Monday, May 21, 2018
Media Contact: Ruth Cummins
As the daughter of parents who both were U.S. Marines, Esther Copeland knows a thing or two about the military and about relocating to wherever her mother and father happened to be stationed next.
Copeland recalled some of the stops: “North Carolina. Okinawa, Japan. Corpus Christi.”
She’s up for more of the same. Copeland, 30, who will receive her master of science in nursing/family nurse practitioner degree on Friday from the University of Mississippi School of Nursing, is a candidate for the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. That assignment could find her aboard an aircraft carrier or a floating hospital serving hundreds of enlisted military.
Copeland said as she was pondering post-graduation jobs, she ran into a Navy recruiter.
“He talked about travel, and I love that idea,” she said. “The Navy provides health care for all the other branches. There’s the possibility of leadership development and it would provide a healthy lifestyle.”
Copeland is used to hard work. Since graduating from the nursing program at Mississippi Delta Community College in Moorhead in 2010, Copeland has worked as a critical care nurse at Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville. That’s where her family moved upon her father’s retirement, when Copeland was 14.
“My mother grew up in Indianola and my grandmother was in Indianola at the time,” Copeland said. She graduated from New Christian Life Academy in Greenville, then completed her associate’s degree.
Her decision to become a nurse wasn’t difficult, Copeland said. “I love taking care of people and anatomy fascinates me,” she said. “Nursing was a natural step.”
Getting her M.S.N.-F.N.P. required Copeland to do what many would find impossible: Work all night in the critical-care unit, then go to school during the day.
“I found it was hard to find time to sleep and to study for my exams," she said. "They’re usually scheduled in the morning. And it’s very hard to eat healthy and get exercise.”
As she worked to obtain her degree, Copeland developed migraines.
“I had a headache every day for a month,” she said. “I had to take a semester off because I was so ill.”
Since then, she’s had treatment to successfully control the migraines.
“The last few months, I haven’t had any headaches,” she said.
She’s an example of a stellar student who stayed focused on an admirable life goal, one of her School of Nursing professors said.
“What makes her special is that she perseveres through trials,” said Dr. Audwin Fletcher. “She never gave up on a nursing career. She came to me personally and asked me to have faith in her abilities. She has maintained faith.”
As Copeland approaches the next step in her life, she’s mindful of one of her favorite verses from the Bible: Jeremiah 29:11.
“'For I know the plans I have for you,'” Copeland quoted. “'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
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