Catching Up with Teresa Shelton (2000 Graduate)

By Deborah Bosley

To follow is an update provided from Teresa based on a set of interview questions developed by Deborah Bosley and Heather Caudill. The following represents Teresa's responses to Deborah Bosley.

Deborah Bosley (DB): Is there anything you'd like to tell us about you personally? (i.e., family, pets, hobbies, any fun facts)?"
Teresa Shelton (TS): A few facts about me: I am the proud mother of three wonderful adult children!  My son Jason lives is Durham, NC with his family. He develops computer testing materials for middle and high school systems throughout the U.S. for his software company. He is also is a photographer and owns a photography business. My daughter Talia lives in Kannapolis and is an athletic trainer for Cox Mill High School in Cabarrus County. My daughter, Tawnie, and her family live in Madrid, Spain. She and her husband Steve both work for the Department of State and have lived out of the country for the past 8 years, giving me reason to pursue my hobby of traveling. 

I have been fortunate to be able to travel to many countries since graduating from college in 2000.  I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to see so many cultures.  I've had the opportunity to travel with friends to, Scotland, Ireland, Barcelona, Paris, Mongolia, and Cuba. I've also traveled to Egypt, seven visits to Vienna and most recently to Madrid to share time with my daughter, son in-law, and my wonderful granddaughters, Ella and Maggie. COVID-19 postponed my trip to Morocco that was scheduled earlier this December. 

I have a collection of my name in 15 languages that I've obtained from travel and from patients I provided cared for at Novant Presbyterian Medical Center. I also collect sand - 75 different samples provided by friends or my travels, and paper currency and coins from countries I have visited. COVID-19 has deterred travel, so I recently have begun sewing again to pass time. I am enjoying the peace of making quilts long promised to my family. 

DB: During your time in school and in the WINGS program, what were the biggest challenges you had to overcome to complete your degree? Can you tell us a story about an accomplishment you are proudest of?
TS: One of the biggest challenges that I had to overcome was paying for my education.  I had three children, ages 12, 14, and 16, I was enrolled in CPCC and between jobs as a teacher assistant. I had moved out of my marriage and home but had no idea how I could provide for housing, kids, school, and life. 
I literally had just moved into temporary housing with a friend and lay crying on her couch wondering how I was going to get through everything when I received a call from Gloria Gibson telling me I was awarded the 1st WINGS scholarship!  I had accomplished taking control of my life by applying for and being chosen for the scholarship!

Once I was in the program challenges continued.  Family, working two jobs and keeping a 3.2 grade average were a few.  Math was always challenging, and I needed it to continue through school.  I actually failed a math course at CPCC but received encouragement from my mentor Mary Bruce and others at WINGS to take the course again and passed!

My proudest accomplishment was being the first in my family of origin to graduate from college. WINGS graciously stayed with me for 5 years and in that time allowed me to transfer from CPCC to Queens College. I worked 2 jobs, completed clinicals, and provided for my children, two of them in college when I graduated. I graduated with honors from Queens University in 2000. 

DB: How have you have been doing since you graduated, and how has your career progressed over the years? 
TS: My career has been very rewarding since I graduated.  With the help and encouragement of WINGS, I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Queen's University. I celebrated 20 years as a Registered Nurse with Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center this past July!
During my first 9 years at Novant, then Presbyterian Hospital, I provided care as a bedside nurse to patients on the Women's Care Unit.  My manager encouraged me to apply for the Nurse Educator position that was coming available.

I applied and was hired for the position which included providing education and training for 75 registered nurses and certified nursing assistants on two nursing units. The units included the Women's Care Unit, providing care for women after gynecological surgery and also nurses on the Mother Baby Unit who provided care for newly delivered mothers and their newborn infants. I also participated in creating and redefining new protocols and order sets for doctors and nurses within the Women's Center for four hospitals within the Novant Health System. I earned the National Maternal Newborn Nursing Certification during my time as a Nurse Educator. 

Novant began a workforce reduction in May of 2015.  Four hundred positions, including my position as a Nurse Educator, were eliminated throughout the Novant system. I was offered another position that would have placed me back at the bedside working nights in a discipline I was not familiar with. I decided to take severance pay offered and continue with my travel plans to Mongolia. After three wonderful weeks in Mongolia, I returned to begin a new job search. 

I went back to Novant Presbyterian Medical Center, applied for and was hired as the Stroke Navigator for the Neuroscience department. Currently, I provide basic stroke education to patients and their families with the goal of helping them understand why they had a stroke and life skills to help prevent future stroke. Other responsibilities include providing community education to help prevent stroke and recognition of stroke symptoms. Our community education took place as a podcast this summer due to COVID-19 community gathering restrictions. 

I also facilitate a Young Stroke Survivors support group for stroke survivors and their family members. I earned an additional national certification as a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse. Our stroke program has expanded during the past five years presenting a challenge for me seeing all stroke patients within our three hospitals.  Therefore, I have had the opportunity to participate in hiring and training two additional Navigators to provide education at Presbyterian Hospital and one navigator in each of our sister Novant hospitals at Huntersville and Matthews.

DB: What advice do you have for future mentors and students?
Allow yourself to dream!  Continue pursuing your dreams.  When you don't think your dreams can be attained, don't give up! Allow someone else to hold them and carry them for you until you are ready to take them back and attain them!  
DB: One of the themes for our 25th anniversary is a quote from members and graduate that begins with "I soar because....". How would you complete that sentence?
I soar because I learned how to fly in the wake of those who believed in me when I had little belief in myself. I believe my life is very different because I was taught how to fly from the WINGS organization!  Thank you!