Retha Darnell, a member of the Virginia Community College System’s All-Virginia Academic Team, has been named to the First Virginia Team. She is one of only ten students across the Commonwealth who has been recognized as representing the best and the brightest of community college students.
With the Top-Ten honor, Retha attended a luncheon in Richmond and received a $500 scholarship. She also received a $1500 Gold Coca-Cola Scholarship.
For the mother and grandmother, these honors are recognition of the focus and determination of this non-traditional college student.
The Ft. Blackmore resident, following high school graduation, got married and raised a son and daughter. As her children became older, she entered the insurance field, where she spent ten years and became a licensed insurance agent. But, she says, “I wanted more fulfilling work that made me feel like I was making a difference in people’s lives.”
Retha contacted MECC with the thought of becoming a CNA. She was advised that with some of her courses at ETSU, she could enter the LPN program. In one year, summer of 2008 to 2009, Retha graduated from the college’s Practical Nursing program. In 2010, she decided to enter the RN program.
Just as she has been active in her community, Retha has been an active student at MECC. She currently is the President of MECC’s Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society for community college students. She also is serving as the 2012 MECC class representative for the RN students with the Virginia Appalachian Tricollege Nursing Program.
Speaking of her experience at MECC, Retha says, “I loved my time here and I am a little sad to be leaving. I enjoyed being involved and was able to blossom.” She will be attending the PTK international conference in Nashville in April.
In the summer of 2011, Retha received an externship at Wellmont Holstein Valley Medical Center. She has continued throughout the year after becoming an Extern II, working in patient care.
When Retha graduates on May 11, she will begin employment on the 12th as a graduate nurse with the Medical Center. Following the passage of her licensure exam, she will become an RN in medical surgery.
But there is no stopping Retha. She also plans to begin her Bachelor’s degree and then complete a Master’s degree in nursing, saying, “I want to teach.”
Picture Caption: Retha Darnell, graduating May 11 with her degree in Nursing, wears her two new medals: The All-Virginia Academic Team and the Gold Coca-Cola Foundation Scholarship.