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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Graduate Spotlight: Christopher Tucker

By Irv Harrell

To hear him tell it, Christopher Tucker was a small-town boy with two younger siblings, raised by a single mom in rural Pennsylvania. As far as hobbies, he spent his time reading, wrestling and lifting weights. Academically, he was an "average student," he says.

But Tucker had an early affinity for science and anatomy, which would play out later in life when he chose to seek a nursing degree at Old Dominion University. He will earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing on May 11, graduating at the top of his class with a 3.98 grade-point average.

When Tucker, 26, left high school, he enrolled in the Marine Corps for five years, where he was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. There he built the confidence and skills necessary to catapult from an average to an exemplary student.

"In the Marine Corps I learned a lot of discipline, which helped me structure my life now, and really helped me excel," he said.

Tucker left the Marine Corps in 2015, and he and his wife, Holly, headed to Virginia Beach. Holly, an active-duty sailor in the Navy, is stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana. The couple has a 1½-year-old daughter, Harper.

Tucker said he was drawn to ODU's nursing program because he "heard it was exceptional and one of the tougher ones to get into, and that really appealed to me." While fulfilling prerequisites, Tucker volunteered with Virginia Beach EMS, the nation's largest volunteer prehospital medical services organization. That experience further fueled his interest in being a healthcare provider.

"Virginia Beach EMS exposed me to a lot of stressful situations," he said. "In tragic moments such as car accidents, you see a lot of sadness."

Once accepted by the School of Nursing, Tucker became drawn to critical care. In his final practicum, he worked in the neuro-intensive care unit at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, a Level 1 trauma center. There he applied his love for serving others with complex medical issues and his critical-thinking abilities.

"In critical care, with a smaller nurse-to-patient ratio, you get more time to focus on your patients," he said. "You can make a great impact in that kind of environment."

Tucker raves not only about the hands-on experiences he has had in the School of Nursing, but also the academic experiences. Professors pushed him to excel and were always willing to give their time to make sure he was doing well and answer any questions.

"Nursing is about the holistic health of a person, not just their bodily health but the emotional and mental health," he said. "Here at ODU, instructors were not only concerned about how you were doing academically, but also how you were doing in life. They realize that it's a rigorous program."

Upon graduation, Tucker and his family will be moving to the D.C. area, where his wife is being stationed. Asked what the future might bring careerwise, Tucker said he hasn't given up on the next educational pursuit.

"There's a drive in me that wants more," he said. "I'm throwing around the idea of medical school."

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