Nursing Graduate Crosses Finish Line Despite Tragic Loss

Posted December 01, 2022, 9:43AM

It was North Carolina Central University’s (NCCU) Summer Initiatives in Science and Mathematics program that Erica Wade participated in as a high school student that encouraged her to return to NCCU and obtain a degree someday.   

“It was an engaging program with inspirational professors and I wanted to relive that experience,” said Wade.  

Approximately 15 years later, she returned to the Nest with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from East Carolina University (ECU) and a wealth of leadership experience for a second degree – the accelerated option of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing – with plans to one day become a nurse midwife.  

“I remember the kindness and support that I received from midwives when I gave birth to my daughter,” said Wade. “I want to provide that same environment to expecting mothers.” 

However, her journey to receiving her degree would be disrupted by the unexpected loss of her 13-month-old daughter to a rare genetic condition in May 2022.  

“I was conflicted about continuing the program and felt I needed to spend more time with my family,” she explained. “But my husband encouraged me to keep going as he didn’t want me to lose myself in my grief.” 

It was also the reassuring and comforting environment that her fellow Eagles and professors provided that motivated her to cross the finish line. Despite the tragic loss, Wade maintained perfect attendance in her classes and clinicals and had the highest GPA in the program.   

“I am truly grateful for the support of my cohort and professors like Dr. Dana Carthron and Nursing Department Chair, Dr. Yolanda VanRiel,” she added.  

Wade will begin her next chapter as a nurse with Maria Parham Health, a regional hospital in Vance County, with plans to continue her studies in the nurse-midwifery program at ECU's College of Nursing.

Her advice for current and future Eagles? 

“Use NCCU’s resources; there are great professors in the program who provide excellent guidance and assistance.”  

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