Life contains a lot of firsts: first day of school, first kiss, first job. Jessica Shippee, BSN ’10, will forever have a unique first attached to her name: first graduate of Baker University’s Master of Science in Nursing program.
“Baker’s nursing program has a long history and the thought of being part of the first graduating class was really exciting,” Shippee said. “Additionally, my great aunt Juanita Harrison attended Baker for a semester and my mother, Sherry Shippee, MSM ’02, got her master’s from Baker, so being able to continue my education at the same institution as my family makes me proud.”
A native of Shawnee, Kansas, Shippee’s first exposure to the thought of nursing as a profession came during a health careers class at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School. During her time as a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kansas, the idea of incorporating nursing into her career remained in Shippee’s mind, leading her to consider options for a nursing education and, ultimately, to find Baker’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
“When applying for schools, it was an easy decision for me to choose Baker,” Shippee said. “I was motivated by the smaller class size and campus being located at Stormont Vail. Coming from a larger university, I was looking for more individualized instruction and strong nursing leaders to show me how to be a successful nurse.”
What Shippee found at Baker’s Topeka campus did not disappoint. She graduated in December 2010 and developed such a positive relationship with the Stormont Vail Health staff that she was hired as a nurse and was promoted to her current position as a charge nurse two years later.
“The leadership and knowledge I gained from Baker is the reason I believe I have been successful in my career thus far,” Shippee said.
Having struck educational gold once with Baker, Shippee found inspiration and motivation to earn her master’s degree by looking to her three daughters, ages 2, 3, and 5. Citing her drive to be a successful and positive role model and influence as her children continue to grow, Shippee also realized that her most joyous moments at work included helping others develop their skills to better themselves as health care providers, which eventually led her to the nurse educator track of the MSN program.
“I often think about my first year of nursing and everything I have learned since being a new nurse. I cannot wait to pass along what I have learned to others,” Shippee said. “Some of my instructors for the graduate courses were the same ones I had in my undergraduate courses. Having their instruction and support continued to motivate me to be an educator.”
According to Dr. Carol Moore, associate dean of the School of Nursing and director of the MSN program, Shippee has more than lived up to the persistent and goal-directed reputation she developed during her time in the BSN program.
“She did not waver from the original plan of study we developed when she enrolled in the first MSN class in spring 2016,” Moore said. “Jessica is a master time manager, and it has been a pleasure to work with her and see her achieve her goal.”
In time, Shippee hopes to join Moore in the ranks of Baker faculty and pass along the knowledge that Baker instilled in her. She also plans to pursue a doctoral degree in nursing.
“There is a nurse educator shortage and with many of the current nurse educators reaching the age of retirement, the need of nursing faculty is ever present. I would like to work for a baccalaureate program,” Shippee said. “Ideally, I would work for Baker if there was a position available. I have really enjoyed working at Stormont and going to school at Baker. I respect the mission and values of both organizations and I can’t imagine working for another facility.”