spotlight-category: Nursing

Dr. Allison Abernathy ’95

Allison Abernathy

Nursing faculty gives student confidence to reach her goals

“I always say that GWU changed my life. This University helped to write an important part of my story that I never dreamed possible. I am forever grateful for every person who was placed in my path while I was a student there.”

As a young nursing student, Dr. Allison Abernathy was unsuccessful at a local community college and started looking for another school. Her mother-in-law had heard positive comments about the School of Nursing at Gardner-Webb University, so Abernathy contacted Dr. Shirley Toney, the dean in 1995. “Dr. Toney reviewed my coursework and admitted me into the ASN (Associate of Science in Nursing) program immediately,” she recalled. “She believed in me, and I knew I was where God wanted me to be in order to finish my nursing degree in such a nurturing environment.”

That was 22 years ago, and Abernathy has since earned two more degrees from GWU—completing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in 2007 and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in 2013. She is employed as a nursing instructor and the dean of Health & Human Services at Gaston College in Dallas, N.C. A resident of Cherryville, N.C., Abernathy has also been honored as a NC Great 100 Nurse, an award presented to Registered Nurses in North Carolina for their commitment to excellence.

“I always say that GWU changed my life,” Abernathy shared. “This University helped to write an important part of my story that I never dreamed possible. I am forever grateful for every person who was placed in my path while I was a student there. I love teaching students and giving back to this wonderful profession by igniting a passion in them through my past experiences.”

She treats her students with the same respect she was given from Toney and other GWU faculty members. “Not only did I gain the knowledge I needed to be a successful nurse educator and dean, but I also learned things that were not in the curriculum, such as compassion, integrity and how to bring glory to God in the way I carry myself,” Abernathy offered. “I want all the students I come into contact with to feel like they matter and can do anything with the right support and encouragement.”

Abernathy especially appreciated the freedom to express her faith. “We were allowed to pray before tests and during difficult times throughout the semester,” she offered. “I learned how to be bold in my faith and pray anywhere that I felt led to lift up a need to the Lord. The weekly Dimensions series provided a foundation for weekly Christian connections through speakers, music, etc. I also appreciated my professors sharing their faith through prayer and encouragement in class. I respected the way they communicated to my fellow students and me.”

Previous Bulldog Profile

Keely Ford ’14

Next Bulldog Profile

Chris Gash (’07) psychology; (’16) Master of Divinity

Related Bulldog Profiles

  • Bulldog Profile

    Theresa Trivette ’10

    GWU Master of Science in Nursing helped alumna achieve career goals “The instructors were always available and always supportive. They encouraged and guided along the way. They kept you motivated and the coursework made you challenge yourself.” Theresa Trivette, a 2010 alumna of Gardner-Webb University, is chief nursing officer of Florida Hospital Tampa. Her responsibilities […]

  • Bulldog Profile

    Kaitlynn Watts Smith ’15

    Desires to serve her community by caring for others “I knew Gardner-Webb would become my ‘home away from home,’ a place that would allow me to grow in my faith and my education.” Motivated by her earnest desire to help people, Kaitlynn Watts Smith ’15, of Kannapolis, N.C., chose a career in nursing. When she […]

    Kaitlynn Watts Smith at speaking event
  • Bulldog Profile

    Lyndsey Couch ’14

    Alumna has three nursing degrees from Gardner-Webb Hunt School of Nursing “Gardner-Webb has caring, tough and highly motivated professors to help you be the best you can be.” Since earning her Associate of Science in Nursing from Gardner-Webb University in 2014, Lyndsey Couch, of Kings Mountain, N.C., has been honored every year with an award […]