Relief Efforts Earn Honors for Alumna

Dr. Michelle Skipper (’13) Used Nursing Skills to Serve Neighbors

An alumna of Gardner-Webb University has received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service, the highest honor awarded to a state employee. Dr. Michelle Taylor Skipper was recognized for helping with relief efforts in St. Pauls, N.C., after flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Her efforts extended to her neighbors and others who were stranded in town when major roads became impassable.

Skipper earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at GWU in 2013. She is a clinical associate professor and director of the DNP program in the College of Nursing at East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, N.C. She began teaching at ECU in 2006 and became the director of the DNP program in 2015. She is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) with nearly 20 years of experience, working primarily in rural family practice and OB-GYN settings in Scotland County, N.C.

While many in her town were without electricity for a week, Skipper’s power was restored quickly. As the shelters in town started filling up, the town manager called her husband, Bruce, a United Methodist pastor to help. “My husband is a well-known cook,” she explained. “Shelter residents needed food, and food was beginning to thaw in the school cafeterias while the power was out. So we were able to cook the available food on our outdoor grills.”

They were part of a team of volunteers who fed approximately 1,500 people a day for seven days until the shelters were consolidated and power was restored throughout town. Many of the people who came to eat were on dialysis, oxygen, or had diabetes and needed special foods and snacks prepared for them. She used her nursing background and training to prepare meals for those with dietary restrictions. She also delivered food during the day and at night took laundry home to wash for the shelter residents.

At Gardner-Webb, she could speak freely about her faith and its impact on her nursing career. “I believe in Matthew 25:40 (caring for ‘the least of these’) and felt GWU understood my worldview,” she shared. “Having faculty who prayed with and for students was so reassuring and valuable. I have three nursing degrees, and felt that my education at GWU was the best experience.”

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