College remembers promising nurse who perished in tornado | News
by Kellyn Sirach, SIC Student
On Feb. 29 around 5 a.m., a deadly tornado struck Harrisburg. Most will remember this tornado as the “Leap Day Tornado.” One of Southeastern’s own associate degree nursing (ADN) graduates of May 2011, Jaylynn Ferrell, had her life taken on this morning. Ferrell had just begun her career as a registered nurse (RN) and was employed at Harrisburg Medical Center.
Gina Sirach, director of nursing and allied health at Southeastern Illinois College (SIC), vividly recalls her experiences with Ferrell.
“I enjoyed working with Jaylynn in the PN (practical nursing) and ADN programs. She was very motivated to succeed and always strived to do her best in everything she did. She set high standards for herself and was a very successful student,” said Sirach.
Ferrell left a lasting impression on each and every instructor.
“Jaylynn was placed in my clinical group,” said nursing instructor Amy Murphy. “Instructors tend to grow very close to their clinical students and this was, indeed, a special group that bonded quickly.”
Murphy recalls Ferrell being an exceptional student during her time in nursing school “Jaylynn was one of those rare students who actually liked pharmacology and worked very hard to obtain, assimilate and apply the information,” said Murphy. “Jaylynn would never have been satisfied with mediocrity, her goal was excellence or nothing at all.”
Not only was Ferrell known for her drive and motivation, but also for her qualities outside of the classroom.
“Jaylynn exhibited a maturity, both in and out of the classroom that is rarely seen in someone so young,” said Murphy. “While her study habits and organizational skills were impressive, her most admirable trait was her natural gift of caring. She was an openly faithful Christian with an unending smile. Her patients always bragged that she left no complaint unanswered and took extra steps to make them feel special.”
Not only did Ferrell make a lasting impact on her instructors, but each of her classmates as well.
“I met Jaylynn in anatomy and physiology class,” said classmate and fellow RN, Jessica Jackson. “We sat by each other every day of nursing school. I could count on her for anything whether it be advice for school or personal. I will never forget how dedicated she was in everything she did.”
Nick Shockley, another nursing school classmate at SIC, has fond memories of Jaylynn as well.
“The one thing that I will remember most about Jaylynn besides her hair always being perfect,” Shockley laughingly said. “Is the huge smile she had on her face every day. No matter how bad the day, no matter how down in the dumps everyone was about nursing school, Jaylynn would always find the bright side of things and try her best to cheer everyone up.”
One fellow nursing student and best friend of Ferrell, Danielle Baker, recalls moments spent together that she will never forget.
“We were each other’s cheerleaders on the rough days of school when we didn’t do as well as we wanted to on an exam,” Baker said. “We knew we could get through it together.”
Baker explained that their friendship grew during their time spent in nursing school.
“I believe 100 percent that God placed her beside me at exactly the time I needed her the most,” Baker said. “He gave me more than a best friend, he gave me hope again through Jaylynn. She made me try harder, dig deeper, think harder, and love stronger. She still does. She was more than a best friend to me. She was as close as a sister.”
While classmates and instructors reminisce upon fond memories of Ferrell, she will never be forgotten.
“Jaylynn showed great compassion for the other students and served as a wonderful role model for everyone with whom she came into contact,” said Sirach. “Her family and friends have recently established a nursing scholarship in her name. This is very exciting because it will allow Jaylynn to continue to have a positive impact on others for many years to come.”
The first Jaylynn Ferrell Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Victoria Hamblin of Eldorado at Southeastern’s Honors Night on May 3.
“This wonderful young woman left a deep and lasting impression on all of us,” said Murphy. “Her drive for excellence, her professionalism, her caring nature and her kindness to all who knew her has set the bar a little higher for all students who follow her. We will miss her terribly.”
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