Against the odds, Sampson found success at Camp

Published 5:19 pm Friday, July 7, 2023

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Zyneisha Sampson, a recent graduate of Paul D. Camp Community College’s Registered Nursing program, had a long journey to her successful completion. 

A news release from Camp noted that her story is that of perseverance and help along the way from her family and Camp faculty and staff.

Sampson reflected that the odds of her being where she is now were slim. She was a mother at age 16 and again at 20. She was living paycheck to paycheck and living in a bad section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

“I can vividly remember sitting in my living room and hearing gunshots outside of my window,” she said. “I grabbed my son off the couch and shielded him on the floor. I thought to myself, ‘This can’t be my life.’”

Her whole world turned upside down on May 12, 2018, when her children’s father was murdered.

“I was now faced with being a single mother to my babies,” she said. “It was then I realized that I had to get my babies out of Philadelphia.”

Sampson had a dream of becoming a nurse. 

“I went to the internet and searched for affordable nursing schools in the area, and Camp appeared,” she said. “I applied and was accepted to the Licensed Practical Nursing program.”

“I began the program and quickly learned this was not going to be a walk in the park. This was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done,” she said. “Unfortunately, I was not successful and was dropped from the program.”

After Sampson felt devastated for a period of time, her mother told her she needed to try again. At the same time, Sampson’s Camp adviser, Tasha Taylor, told her about Camp’s Fast Track Healthcare Program, which she could attend while waiting to reapply for the nursing program (both LPN and Registered Nursing). Students can earn three credentials in the Fast Track Healthcare Program through Camp’s Workforce Development Center. After successfully completing that program, Sampson was accepted to Camp’s RN program. 

She went in with a positive outlook and immediately received help from Laurel Brinkley, a nursing faculty member who knew her situation.

“Mrs. Brinkley helped me create a study schedule that would fit into my personal life,” she said. 

After successfully completing her second semester, Sampson had more opportunity to learn and grow in her profession. 

“I was chosen to take part in a paid summer nursing externship with Bon Secours where I was able to work directly with an RN providing patient care,” she said. “This experience helped grow my knowledge and confidence in providing one-on-one care.”

During her third semester, she interviewed at a Sentara hiring event where she was offered three different positions. She ended up with the position she wanted — a job in the intensive care unit — despite the manager saying she didn’t hire new graduates.

“She really loved my interview,” Sampson said. “Her exact words to me were, ‘We can teach you drips, and medication and how to take care of a patient. But we can’t teach you how to be selfless, empathetic and caring.’”

Five years to the date of one of her lowest moments in life, Sampson saw her dream come true. On May 12, 2023, she graduated from Camp Community College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing.

“All this goes to show that you should never doubt your abilities or give up on your dreams. I am proof that no matter what life throws at you, if you work for what you want, you will succeed,” she noted. “Here I am two years later, studying for my NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) and weeks away from starting my career and providing a better life for my family. Ironically, the date May 12th will no longer be a day of sorrow for me, but a day of joy, and a memory of my greatest achievement.”