UTMB nursing graduate beats the odds
It’s been a very long road for Galveston’s Hunter Cherryhomes.
When he walks across stage at The University of Texas Medical Branch’s School of Nursing graduation ceremony April 29 at the Moody Gardens Convention Center at 3 p.m., getting his degree will definitely be the high point of a long journey.
As a single father trying to make ends meet after 2008’s Hurricane Ike, life was anything but easy for Cherryhomes.
A high school dropout, Cherryhomes was working for a local electrical contractor, sometimes up to 15 hours a day. His job provided no insurance or other benefits, which prompted the young father to reexamine his future.
“I always regretted not finishing high school,” said Cherryhomes. “Working the long days I had very little time to spend with my young daughter and I wanted to have a greater presence in her life.”
Cherryhomes made the decision to obtain his GED, which set him on a path for even greater achievements than he may have anticipated. While earning his GED he realized he had an affinity for science, which led to an Associates of Science degree from Galveston College.
During this time Cherryhomes also met his future wife. She had three girls, making for a blended family with four daughters. One of the four has Type 1 diabetes and Cherryhomes felt like he could not properly care for her, inspiring him to consider a medical career.
“Working in the health care field would give me the opportunity to take care of my family and myself with a rewarding career. That is how I came to the decision that nursing school was right for me,” said Cherryhomes.
The young father not only attended nursing school, he was part of UTMB’s prestigious honors program. Two days before the deadline to register for honors courses he learned that his test scores qualified him for the program. He quickly composed a required essay and submitted his application, ending up as one of five students accepted.
When asked about the benefits of being a part of the honors program Cherryhomes said there were many.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of the program was the field experience we did in Beaumont,” said Cherryhomes. “I had experience with inpatients, but when working with outpatients we saw many indigent patients.”
Cherryhomes took to heart many of the challenges the indigent patients experienced, such as a lack of transportation and more.
“If a person has to make a choice between medicine and food for their family, they will choose food.”
While Cherryhomes actually completed his studies in December, he will receive his diploma at the upcoming April graduation ceremony in front of a large family contingent.
“We are proud of Hunter and all of our graduates,” said Pamela G. Watson, dean of UTMB’s School of Nursing. “The integrity and quality of our graduates will be an ongoing asset to the nursing community.”
Cherryhomes recently began his first nursing position in the UTMB medical intensive care unit, which he finds exciting and challenging. The new nurse is also excited to be working in the recently opened Jennie Sealy Hospital with its abundance of natural lighting and expansive views.
When prompted to explain what he finds most rewarding about nursing Cherryhomes quickly and proudly responded.
“There are so many things. You are taking care of not just the patient, but also their loved ones. I enjoy the aspect of comforting families and patients and seeing them come make a full recovery or getting better. Even if it does not work out, I feel good knowing I tried and always strive to be a positive influence.”