Vanderbilt nurses for life

What inspires 14 busy nursing professionals to dedicate hours of their valuable free time to their alma mater? From organizing networking events to honoring outstanding fellow alumni, the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Alumni Board helps connect graduates back to the school. Meet your alumni board and learn what they want you to know about VUSN.


Joshua Thornberry in mint button down shirt with stethoscope around his nec;Joshua Thornsberry, MSN’12 — President, VUSN Alumni Board
Cardiovascular Nurse Practitioner, WellStar Health System, Atlanta

What board activities do you want alumni to know about?

The annual MSN and DNP Know Your Value networking and panel events are invaluable resources for current students and an excellent opportunity for alumni engagement. The post-event student-alumni networking reception is a must for any alum wanting to give back to VUSN. Throughout the year, the VUSN Alumni Board also hosts numerous receptions at various national conferences. Those can be quite enjoyable!



Joanie Laughlin Jeannette

Joanie Laughlin Jeannette, BSN’83, MSN’04 Administrative Director, Adult Inpatient Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

How has VUSN affected your career?

It has been a great asset to me and allowed me to reach for the stars in relation to my career. I gained not only the knowledge — but also the confidence — to progress my career and build on the foundation only an undergraduate and graduate degree from Vanderbilt could give me.



Charlotte Covington in patterned blouseCharlotte Mathias Covington, BSN’69, MSN’89
Associate Professor, Emerita, VUSN

Why are you involved at VUSN as a graduate volunteer?

I’ve always had a need to give back — as a peer, preceptor, teacher/guide — in all my roles. As alums, we especially need to give students a view of their future and instill the vision of their need to give back.




Shauna ParkerShaunna Parker, MSN’11
Instructor, VUSN

What board activities do you want VUSN alumni to know about?

The new mentoring committee of the Alumni Board. We’re preparing a program where alumni can serve as mentor to a student or another graduate, providing encouragement and advice. I believe this will be a great resource for current and past students.




Madeline CregoMadeline Crego, MSN’17
Advance Practice Registered Nurse, Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute

Share a memory from your time as a VUSN student.

My favorite memories from VUSN are eating lunch on the lawn during PreSpecialty year. I loved the mix of students from all different backgrounds and with different specialty interests within one class. My closest friends from VUSN are from a wide range of specialties. To this day, we keep each other informed on what’s going on in our specialty areas, what legislation is important for our practices, etc.



Brooklyn Beaupre

Brooklyn Beaupre, MSN’14
Critical Care Nurse Practitioner, Ballard Healthcare, Johnson City, Tennessee

How has your Vanderbilt education affected your career?

I worked as a bedside CV-ICU nurse for seven years. When I decided to pursue an advanced degree, I wanted to stay in the ICU/critical care arena. Vanderbilt’s acute care program allowed me to reach my goal of becoming a critical care intensivist. I was well prepared coming out of that program; it has allowed me to obtain a career in an area that I am passionate about.



Allison DavisAllison Davis, DNP’15
Chair, Undergraduate Nursing, Union University, Hendersonville, Tennessee

Why do you volunteer for VUSN?

I have been overwhelmed by the opportunities — from excellence in teaching to networking — afforded to me through the School of Nursing. I would never have had them on my own. This is a way I can not only show my appreciation, but also aid in continuing and expanding the offerings from alumni to the students.



Ekom EssienEkom Essien, MSN’14, BS’10
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Indiana Health Center, South Bend

How has your Vanderbilt education affected your career?

The pediatric primary care program is widely known for preparing excellent PNPs; the preparation I received provided a plethora of opportunities. Jobs, working with the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, precepting students and networking with other nurse practitioners across the country — VUSN has had a lasting effect on my professional and personal life!




Ty WilliamsTy Williams, MSN’03, DNP’12
Assistant Professor, VUSN, Los Angeles

What board activities do you want VUSN alumni to know about?

The Know Your Value events, as well as Reunion! Know Your Value is for MSN and DNP students who are interested in honing their networking skills while meeting VUSN graduates. Reunion always includes the alumni awards ceremony, tours of the school, including the new building and Sim Lab, and plenty of time to see your friends.



Hannah LoweHannah Carroll Lowe, MSN’14
Family Nurse Practitioner, Madison Primary Care, Huntsville, Alabama

Why are you involved at VUSN as a volunteer?

As someone who felt deeply grateful for my experience at VUSN, I knew that I would love to be involved in leaving a legacy of excellence for students who would follow me. I also greatly enjoy engaging with students and their energy and excitement. I find participating allows me to dig deep in gratitude in reflection of my career.



Matt MartinMatt Martin, MSN’12, DNP’14
Director of Business Continuity & Emergency Preparedness, TriStar Skyline Medical Center, Nashville

Share a memory from your time at VUSN.

When I entered the DNP program, I was concerned about having to come to Nashville each semester for the intensive week (a required concentrated period of on-campus classes). I quickly learned that the intensive week and the network of friends and colleagues I developed through the program were amazing. I enjoyed going out to dinner after class when we would discuss our projects and how we were all using the skills we were developing in our organizations.



Cathy MaxwellCathy Maxwell, PhD’12
Assistant Professor, VUSN

How has your Vanderbilt education affected your career?

Vanderbilt’s PhD program prepared me to be an independent investigator with skills to build a strong program of research. Since graduation, I completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship and have conducted six research studies. I have over 25 peer-reviewed publications related to my research.




Ken NelsonKen Nelson, MSN’11, DNP’13
Chief Nursing Officer, HSHS St. Vincent Hospital, Green Bay, Wisconsin

What’s most memorable from your time as a student?

I think about the pinning ceremony and graduation, specifically reflecting back on the journey my classmates and I took to make it to that day. I still regularly interact with many of these people even though we are hundreds of miles apart. That journey gave us a strong and lasting bond.



Tiffany StreetTiffany Street, MSN’03, DNP’18 — Immediate Past President
Administrative Director, Ambulatory Practice and Ambulatory Advanced Practice, Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute

What should alumni and students know about the VUSN Alumni Association?

It was not until I graduated and began my career that I truly realized the impact that VUSN has, and will continue to have, on the nursing profession. I encourage all graduates to take advantage of the networking opportunities that are available through the Vanderbilt and VUSN alumni associations. Networking is more than looking for someone to give you a job – seek out alumni serving as mentors, leaders, promoters and change agents for the nursing profession.

Interested in being part of the Alumni Board or activities? Email Alumni Affairs Director Betsey Usher ( or reach out to any board member.

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Fall 2019 Features Issue