At 6 feet 4 inches tall, you might expect Clinton Hammond to be trying out for the basketball team, but he has his sights set on a career in the medical field instead. Hammond first enrolled in a heating and air program at Pearl River Community College but found that the course work didn’t pique his interest. However, after securing a job at the Wesley Medical Center in Hattiesburg, Miss., he found that the nursing world did. Hammond said he enjoyed working with the nurses in his unit and interacting with his patients.
Assigned to rehabilitation, Hammond usually has a steady stream of patients coming in and out. But one cancer patient, Barbara Heyman, stayed on his floor for several months, and she became a mentor to the young nursing assistant. A former nursing instructor at PRCC and a nurse at Wesley, Heyman recognized Hammond’s affinity for the job and the promising future he could have. She encouraged him to pursue a practical nursing certificate at PRCC. In fact, Heyman believed in him so much that just before her passing, she made sure to send a referral to the college with his application. When talking about his mentor, Hammond’s demeanor lights up, and it is clear what an impact Heyman had on him.
Heyman was certainly instrumental in helping Hammond find his path, but he also credits the hands-on experience and “the best instructors” at PRCC for preparing him for a career in nursing. Hammond completed the program in May, and he was so satisfied, that he plans to continue his studies at the college. In fact, after completing a few prerequisites, Hammond plans to enroll in the registered nursing program next fall.
The real-world learning Hammond received in his career and technical education classes at PRCC and the guidance from a former CTE instructor and nurse have made all the difference in his life. He is headed toward a prosperous future in healthcare. Who knows? Maybe he will mentor a future nursing student just as Heyman did for him.