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Student, graduate, teacher, leader: Tech grads turned nursing faculty are recognized for their work

Every once in a while, a college student completes a career cycle that puts them right back where they started, where they come back to their alma mater and do for students what their professors did for them.

Hillary Parcell, MSN, RN, and Kelly Morton, MSN, RN, did just that. They moved from Tech student to Tech graduate. They went on to complete advanced degrees. Now, they both teach at the University, where they’re helping students to follow their path and showing the nursing world what it means to be a Golden Bear.

The two were also recently recognized as emerging leaders in their field in the Future of Nursing West Virginia 40 Under 40. The program seeks out licensed professional nurses who have taken on leadership roles within nursing, who have contributed to the advancement of the profession in West Virginia and who have volunteered within their communities.

Dr. Crystal Sheaves oversees WVU Tech’s nursing program. She said that Morton and Parcell are perfect candidates for this type of recognition.

“They have both take over leadership responsibilities within the school of nursing and have been coordinating courses for us. And they serve leadership roles in nursing academia, where they're actually promoting the nursing profession to the next generation of professionals. They’re also leaders within their communities and have organized volunteer activities,” she said.

The two were among those honored at a gala in Charleston this August. Three nursing faculty members from the Morgantown Campus were also selected for the award.

Sheaves said that having such a strong faculty presence is a win for the school.

“It highlights the fact that WVU has elite faculty on our campuses. That we really are at the top of our profession and working to promote nursing overall in West Virginia,” she said.

Nursing faculty member, Hillary Parcell.Hillary Parcell, MSN, RN

Hillary Parcell is a graduate of WVU Tech’s nursing program. She’s from Charlton Heights, West Virginia and found herself interested in a nursing career because she wanted to take on a challenging profession and medical mission efforts.

Today, the idea that she’s enabling students to do the same – to genuinely help people – is what drives her work.

“I am able to share my passion for nursing and helping others with so many students as they are just being introduced into the profession. It’s great to know that a small piece of my passion for the profession can make an impact in the lives of so many patients through the students I am able to interact with by their delivery of care to those patients,” she said.

Parcell was chosen for her leadership qualities as a nursing educator and for her work with the Student Nurses Association, where she has put together a number of community service projects for students in the organization.

“Hillary has also worked on our strategic planning committee out of Morgantown for the last year and a half,” said Sheaves. “They have done a tremendous job of putting together a strategic plan for the entire School of Nursing.”

Nursing faculty member, Kelly Morton. Kelley Morton, MSN, RN

Kelly Morton MSN, RN, is from Bentree, West Virginia. She always knew that she wanted to go into the health care field, but it wasn’t until she was a freshman at WVU Tech that she figured out nursing was the right fit.

“I always found myself either helping others or teaching others,” she said. “Fortunately, nursing is a career where I can do both.”

Now she’s an instructor at Tech, teaching clinical and didactic coursework at the sophomore level and co-coordinating a pharmacology course.

She says teaching is a natural extension of that desire to help that is so prevalent in nursing professionals.

“As a nurse, I believe you have the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life. As nurse educators, we are here to provide knowledge and skill sets that will allow our students to become successful nurses. Understanding that as one person, I can only reach so many, but by educating future nurses to be culturally aware and to have a foundation of skills will strengthen the nursing workforce and ultimately improve healthcare,” she said.

In addition to her work in the profession, Morton helped establish a flood relief committee at her church in June 2016. The committee completed an assessment on businesses and single family homes within the neighborhood. The collected data allowed the group to distribute items where they were most needed.  She’s also a coach and mentor for her children’s athletic teams.