news-category: Campus News

Gardner-Webb College of Health Sciences Welcomes 80 Cleveland County Students

Students from Cleveland County Schools pose for a picture in the Nursing Skills Lab

Faculty and Staff Guide Middle and High School Students in Hands-on Learning Experiences 

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Faculty and staff from the Gardner-Webb University College of Health Sciences spent the last two weeks introducing students from Cleveland County Schools (CCS) to careers in healthcare. They are part of the CCS Rev Up Healthcare Experience, which is supported by a grant through federal COVID emergency relief funds, noted Rhonda Benfield, CCS district coordinator for Career and Technical Education (CTE).

The program spanned eight days with a total of 80 students visiting Gardner-Webb. They were at GWU for two days and at Cleveland Community College for two days learning about careers and the degrees offered at each school. Rising seventh- through 12th-graders are invited to apply, and since last year, participation has more than doubled.

The students manipulate the virtual cadaver.
The students manipulate the virtual cadaver to see the body’s different systems.

“We had three programs serving 100 students last year,” Benfield observed. “We have seven programs serving 250 students this year. In addition to healthcare, we have programs in culinary, technology, skilled trades, agriculture, public service (fire, rescue, law enforcement, 9-1-1) and a summer ‘teamship,’ where students will work in teams with two local businesses to solve a real business problem.”

Dean of the College of Health Sciences Nicole Waters said staff and faculty engaged students in learning activities, such as participating in banana surgery, nursing skills and completing CPR certification. The classes also saw a demonstration in the virtual cadaver lab and had an opportunity to manipulate the digital pictures. In the exercise science lab, they took part in games to simulate what breathing feels like for a patient with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

Before Gardner-Webb University, Waters was a Health Sciences instructor in CTE within Cleveland County Schools. “From my years of teaching experience in Career Technical Education, I have a firsthand understanding of the need for students to be engaged and immersed in career experiences early to accelerate their path to success,” Waters related. “Collaborating with Cleveland County Schools to provide two weeks of experiential learning and opportunities for students to explore healthcare careers brings me great joy and is a rewarding experience. I want every student interested in a healthcare career to understand the many options available for them to obtain a degree.”

Students participate in a game that simulates how difficult it is for a COPD patient to breathe.

Most of the students who attended during the first week at Gardner-Webb were interested in learning more about nursing. One student hoped to be an anesthesiologist and another wanted to become a neurosurgeon.

Sabrina Howell, a rising 10th-grader, plans to be a registered nurse. She enjoyed the CPR course and dissecting the virtual cadaver. Nya Woods, also a rising 10th-grader, hasn’t decided about her career, but said she gets joy out of helping people. “I wanted to know how it felt to be a nurse or be in healthcare,” Woods shared. “I’m trying everything out before a make a final decision.”

Mabysin Hogue, a rising senior, signed up for the program for the opportunity to experience a “day in the life” of a nurse. “I wanted to know what I would be doing if I were going into nursing,” she stated. “Radiology would be my second choice.”

The career accelerator programs are planned and coordinated by CCS CTE in partnership with GWU and CCC, and numerous local businesses. “Our focus and goal for every program is to provide hands-on, engaged learning and experiences where students can encounter careers and professionals in a field that interests them,” Benfield shared. “The funds allow us to provide some truly unique and memorable experiences for young people.”

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

Previous News Article

Stonecutter Science Academy at Gardner-Webb Introduces Students to Careers in Science

Next News Article

Gardner-Webb Announces New Vice President for Finance and Administration

Related News

  • News Article

    Gardner-Webb Clubs Recognized for Service to Campus and Community

    ASL Club Advisor Robert Moore, Campus Ministries United, and Pre-Health Society win Top Awards BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Hope Saunders, Gardner-Webb assistant director of Student Engagement, recently recognized leaders and advisors of the University’s clubs and organizations. Saunders noted that in 2023-2024 there were 37 groups for students to get plugged into. Four new clubs were introduced: […]

    a group of students with their awards
  • News Article

    Members of Gardner-Webb’s Concert Choir Ready for Trip and D-Day Observance

    GWU is the Only N.C. College Invited to Perform in 80th Anniversary Concert in Abbaye-aux-Hommes BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The Gardner-Webb Department of Music started making plans last year for its trip to France to perform during the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Soon, the many hours of practice and preparation will be rewarded as 16 students and […]

  • News Article

    Gardner-Webb Computer Science Major Andrew Cook, ’24, Enjoys a Challenge

    Exploring Software Engineering Prepares Students for Digital Landscape BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Computer science 2024 alumnus Andrew Cook enrolled at Gardner-Webb University, because he is passionate about the evolving nature of technology and the impact it has on society. He also knew the quality of the program, because his brother and father graduated from GWU with degrees […]

    computer code