SJR STATE ALUMNI SPOTLIGHTS
Roshonda Phillips – (2002)
DNPc, RN-BC, CVRN, NE-BC, CNL, VHA-CM
Each month, St. Johns River State College will honor one of its own in an alumni salute, celebrating the career milestones, community contributions and personal reflections of those who began their collegiate journey as SJR State Vikings.
As a high school dropout, Roshonda’s story of personal triumph begins with her decision to earn her GED. She then enrolled in SJR State’s nursing program and persevered until she earned a doctorate of nursing practice. She is currently serving as the chief nurse for quality improvement and nursing excellence at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa.
“There’s an old saying that education is important,” Roshonda recently said in an email to the College. “Through my experience at SJR State, I found that to be true. I have also found that many of us have barriers that hinder us from obtaining an education or understanding the true value of an education.” “It is hard to dream of being something you’ve never been exposed to,” she continued. “It’s hard to imagine being great when the visions of your surroundings are vastly different. So, I would ask others to take the opportunity to seek to understand those who appear as troubled, outcasts or uninterested. It may change their life, it surely did for me!”
ROSHONDA, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO COMPLETE YOUR GED?
I knew I needed to obtain my GED to set the foundation for my career goals.
WHAT WAS THE MOST VALUABLE THING YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELF WHILE WORKING ON YOUR GED?
When I started attending the classes that prepared me to take the GED, I became more focused and determined. I started to believe that I could accomplish my goals.
HOW DID THE ADULT EDUCATION PROGRAM BEST PREPARE YOU TO CONTINUE YOUR EDUCATION?
By continuously asking the question “What’s next?” I was consistently reminded that this was only the beginning of my educational accomplishments, and I need to think about what I wanted to accomplish next.
WHY DID YOU SELECT SJR STATE FOR YOUR TRAINING IN NURSING?
I was fortunate to be chosen for the first nursing class at SJR State. It was an honor for me because this is where it all began. It was home for me.
WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE NURSING PROGRAM?
The instructors, the process, and my fellow classmates. It was a new program and we encountered bumps along the way. However the school kept us informed and experienced the “growing pains” as well.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE DURING YOUR TIME AT SJR STATE?
The biggest challenge for me was shifting my approach to learning. In the prerequisite courses, most had a structure of read, study, and remember; but in the nursing program, it was read, study, remember and application. There is a level of critical thinking that is above what you learn in the prerequisite courses. You quickly learn how those courses set the foundation for all that you will learn in the nursing program.
WHAT WAS THE MOST VALUABLE THING YOU LEARNED WHILE IN THE NURSING PROGRAM?
The value of community health and community outreach in addressing healthcare disparities.
WHAT ARE YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES OF SJR STATE?
There are so many, but the one that touched me the most was graduation. It was such an awarding and emotional experience. The joy of my classmates and I paying homage to nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale during the “Lightening of the Lamp” ceremony was an experience I will never forget! For me, it symbolized our journey from nursing student to nurse.
WHAT ADDITIONAL DEGREES HAVE YOU EARNED?
After receiving my A.S. degree in Nursing from SJR State, I attended the University of Phoenix for my BSN, the University of South Florida for my MSN with a specialization as a Clinical Nurse Leader, and then Jacksonville University for my DNP with a specialization in Executive Leadership.
WHERE ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING AND WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB.
I am employed at the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA Hospital). I am the Chief Nurse of Quality Improvement and Nursing Support Services. In this role, I am responsible for the ongoing quality improvement initiatives at our healthcare system to ensure quality and minimize risk. My goals are to improve care through engagement and collaboration with the frontline staff. I absolutely love my job! Every day I get to serve those who have served our country. There is no greater privilege than to care for those who were willingly put their lives on the line for us.
ARE YOU INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY SERVICE?
Prior to COVID, I was involved in various community service projects through my church, New Creation Christian Center. We routinely held food and clothing drives. I also participated in community service worldwide by leading medical mission trips in underprivileged countries abroad.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS?
I am unable to even dream about where I’ll be in 10 years. So far, my reality has surpassed anything I could have ever dreamed about. The things I have had the opportunity to experience were never part of my plan. God directs and I follow. I just want to be able to say at the end of this life, “I have nothing left to give, I used up every bit of talent God gave me!”
ARE YOU AN SJR STATE ALUMNUS?
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Director of Public Relations and Publications