Scholar of the Week
Melissa Smitherman of John Randolph Tucker High School
As a young girl who would always wander over to the counter and play with the blood pressure cuff and cotton swabs, stuff Melissa Smitherman always loved visiting the hospital. “I remember telling the nurse how fascinated I was with her stethoscope and the characters on her scrubs, price ” she stated in an essay. Her interest in hospitals has influenced her so much that she wants to pursue a career in nursing.
Melissa’s favorite activity to participate in outside of school is community service. She currently works as a pharmacy technician and used to volunteer at the Henrico Doctor’s Hospital as a medical secretary. “When I was volunteering at the hospital, it really opened my eyes as to how people feel when they’re sick. They’re completely different, they can’t fend for themselves and they’re dealing with so much,” Melissa said. “I want to be there to make their experience better, to learn what I can do to make this patient’s life easier and what I can do to restore them back to health.”
Melissa is very passionate about giving back to the community and will continue to do that for the rest of her life. Most recently, she worked with a local daycare where she read books and did an Easter egg hunt with the children. She is also an ESL tutor at school and volunteers at Richmond marathons or 5K runs. Within school, Melissa gets opportunities to give back to the community through her involvement with the National Honor Society; Family, Career, Community, Leaders of America (FCCLA); Hermitage Tech Ethics Society and Big Cats. Big Cats is a program at her high school where older students mentor and guide freshmen students.
Other than volunteer work, Melissa also has a strong interest in traveling. She is very interested in different cultures and hopes to study abroad in Peru this upcoming summer. “I have been to almost every state on the East coast except for Maine and New Hampshire,” Melissa said. “I’m hoping to go out west one day.” To pursue a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, one place Melissa will travel to is Old Dominion University in Norfolk. She said the location and diversity of the school attracted her to ODU.
As an aspiring nurse, one of Melissa’s cousins inspires her the most. After her cousin lost her father and was raised by a single parent in a family of eight children, she worked her way up to becoming a nurse and will soon get her Master’s degree. “I lost my mom when I was younger and I didn’t lose my dad coming out of high school,” Melissa said. “She motivates me because she perseveres…and it shows that if she can do it, I can do it too.”
With the end of her senior year quickly approaching, from people at her high school to people at the pharmacy, Melissa wants everyone to know how appreciative she is of their support. “When you have support from the community, you feel more powerful and you feel like you can do anything,” Melissa said.