This May, the Associate Degree Nursing program at Sampson Community College graduated 43 students. For three nursing students—Madison Davis, Jessica Gautier, and Julie (Maddy) Peterson— being graduates of an SCC nursing program is a part of a family legacy. Each has a parent who graduated from an SCC nursing program years ago. For some of these graduates, the dream of becoming a nurse started as children, for others, it was a slow realization. For each, following in the footsteps of their parents turned out to be the perfect decision. 

Davis dressed as a nurse as a young girl, complete with a stethoscope and name tag. (Courtesy Photo)

Madison Davis always saw nursing as her ultimate goal. For as long as she can remember, she strived toward nothing else. As a high schooler, she took advantage of the Career and College Promise program and was able to complete all prerequisite courses for the Associate Degree Nursing program before graduating from Clinton High School in 2018. She began her nursing coursework that same fall. 

“My dream of becoming a nurse began at an early age. I remember my mom returning from work and thinking, ‘I want to do that when I grow up,’ Davis recalled. “I have always had a passion for helping others and I knew a career in nursing would allow me to do just that.”

Davis says she feels confident that the nursing program at Sampson Community College has prepared her for a career in nursing through its caring, equipped instructors. She has also been supported at home– by studying with her mother, Karen Dixon Davis, who was also an SCC Nursing graduate. 

“We often studied together, talked about clinical situations, and she would reminisce about her time spent at SCC in the nursing program,” Davis shared. 

Davis’ pinning photo. (Photo Credit/Don Melcher Photography)

Now, Davis begins her career on the medical-surgical floor at Sampson Regional Hospital, where she’ll be able to invest time in caring for patients in her community and give back as she always hoped. Eventually, she hopes to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. 

For Jessica Gautier, the path to nursing happened less directly. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from East Carolina University in 2015 before finally settling on nursing. Gautier says she always knew that nursing was “in her blood,” but it took years to accept. 

Her mother, Rhonda Gail Kelly Gautier, graduated from SCC in 1996 and made nursing her career. For Gautier’s entire life, she says her mother implored her to be a nurse, always seeing the qualities for the profession in her daughter.

“She was amazing, and I aspired to be just like her when I grew up. She always told me that I was made to be a nurse, I had the heart and mind for it, and that no matter what that’s what I was meant to be,” Gautier shared. 

Gautier holds a photo of her mother, with a pair of her scrubs and nurse’s cap. (Photo Credit/Hook & Anchor Photography)

But unfortunately, her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008. Gautier spent time caring for her mother, saying it was one of the reasons she chose nursing, but also a reason why she felt apprehensive to enter the profession. In 2012, her mother passed away. 

Gautier says her faith in God and the words of her mother finally brought her to nursing school. As she begins her career at Vidant Duplin Emergency Department, Gautier says she hopes to carry the attitude and strength of her mother with her. 

“I grew up watching my mother be selfless in her profession and not once complain…To be half the nurse that she was would mean that I’ve accomplished great things,” she concluded. 

Gautier’s pinning photo. (Photo Credit/Don Melcher Photography)

Julie (Maddy) Peterson comes from a long line of nurses—both her grandmother, mom, and aunt graduated from nursing programs at Sampson Community College. Throughout her life, Peterson listened in on stories shared from shifts at hospitals, not realizing her desire to enter nursing. After finally deciding to pursue nursing, she began participating in these conversations. In the classroom, she realized her years of listening had paid off. 

“Information I didn’t even realize I had absorbed during the years aided me in the classroom and clinical setting. It was almost like second nature to me to think, act, document, and question like a nurse,” Peterson stated. 

Even though the realization was delayed, Peterson says that after completing clinical and coursework, it’s obvious she was always intended to be a nurse. Her mother, Aimee Averitt Saunders, and aunt shook their heads when she announced her decision, but says that in the end, they also agreed she’d found her place. Like others, Peterson says nursing school brought lifelong friends whom she says will last, even as she begins a position in New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Residency Program on the Cardiac Intensive Care Units later this year. 

Peterson’s pinning photo. (Photo Credit/Don Melcher Photography)

“The friendships I have made in this program are not like any other…I am certain that I will never lose those friends to time, distance, or opposing schedules. I now consider them my family,” she commented. 

All three graduates have also taken and passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), making them licensed. As they each begin healthcare careers amid a global pandemic, these students will arrive prepared. Prepared by the rigorous courses taken at Sampson Community College, but also prepared by conversations and knowledge enforced by the legacies of their parents. 

For more information about healthcare programs at SCC, visit the website, or contact the Administrative Assistant to Healthcare Programs, Ashley Register at  

About Sampson Community College: Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options, and early college education.