Maria Sumrall | Assistant Professor, Northwest Florida State College

Maria Sumrall | Assistant Professor, Northwest Florida State College

Year of the Nurse Scholarship Recipient

As a teen, Maria Sumrall was certain she would do something in the area of medicine or healthcare. “My mother became a nurse at the age of 48 and my great-grandfather was trained in the late 1800s in Hungary to be a nurse,” says Maria, who grew up in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Married at the age of 16, after high school she enrolled at the University of Utah on her 18th birthday with plans to earn a BSN. She had to move to a part-time class schedule after having her first child. “It took me almost eight years at four different colleges in three different states, and I raised three of my six children while doing it, but I got the BSN in 1990.” 

Gaining a variety of clinical experience 

Maria worked as a staff and charge nurse at Huntsville Hospital in Alabama for five years before taking a break to focus on her children for seven years. When she returned to the workforce in 2002, it was to a staff nurse position on a med/surg/dialysis unit and then a mother/baby unit in Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, where she worked until 2005. 

For a while, Maria helped her husband’s business as an office manager, but she again returned to nursing in 2008—once more at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center on the med/surg/oncology unit, where she still works part-time today. “I started precepting graduate nurses and newly hired nurses as well as LPN and ADN students,” she says. “I really loved doing it and when an instructor from Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC) encouraged me to consider advancing my nursing degree, I decided I would do so.” She then decided the time was right to earn an MSN in Nursing Education, and she graduated from Florida State University in 2013. The same instructor from NWFSC also encouraged Maria to apply for an adjunct position. She started teaching as an adjunct in 2013.

Full-time professor

In 2017, Maria applied to NWFSC for a full-time position as an assistant professor and clinical coordinator for second-semester ADN students. As she’s transitioned to education full time, she says her goal is to help nurses grow and learn. “I love seeing the light bulb go on for students,” she says. 

That desire to help nurses build a solid foundation for their careers led Maria to explore the Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Leadership at American Sentinel University in early 2020, after a coworker at Northwest Florida State shared that she had graduated from American Sentinel. 

Maria started the DNP program in April 2020. “I thought this would be a wonderful way to set myself apart and further my knowledge,” she says. “But really, I’m doing this for me. I’ve always felt that it’s important to keep learning and expanding. You’re never too old to do anything you want to do.” Maria is aiming to graduate in August 2022. 

Year of the Nurse Scholarship

In July 2020, Maria learned that she was a recipient of American Sentinel’s Year of the Nurse Scholarship. “All I can say is, ‘Wow,’” she says. “I’m just very honored and thankful to the people who have helped me along the way. Receiving this scholarship tells me that American Sentinel believes in me. I’m not just a student moving through the program; I’m valuable. I am excited to prove that I’m worth the investment.” 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” and American Sentinel is celebrating by offering a Year of the Nurse Scholarship. Several scholarships are awarded per quarter in 2020. Congratulations to this quarter’s recipients. Learn more and apply here.

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Julia Gravelyn | OBGYN/Women’s Health Nurse, Spectrum Health
Mike Widmann | Clinical Informatics Coordinator, Excela Health, Westmoreland Hospital