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RCC nursing student gets set to pay it forward

“Now that it’s my turn to grow up, I want to help people. I want to help them the way so many nurses helped me as a child,” says Rappahannock Community College nursing student Aryah Hudgins. “Being sick at a young age is a terrifying thing; however, having a great nurse who understands makes the experience less scary.”

AHudgins-PortraitHudgins was diagnosed with scleroderma (an auto-immune disease involving connective tissues, with symptoms that vary from mild to life-threatening) at the age of ten. “It was my first time in a hospital,” she says. “It was the first time I ever met a hospital nurse. As my doctor talked to my parents, the nurse in the room came to sit next to me and hold my hand. I think quite often about the kindness of that nurse, and every other nurse that carried me through such a hard time. It took a large number of nurses to save my ten-year-old life. Now it’s my turn; I want to pay it forward.” Though there is no cure for her disease, it is in remission at present, and Hudgins has no intention of letting it interfere with her life’s goals. “Being sick has changed many things in my life and tested me in many different ways, but I know now that I am strong enough to overcome anything this illness can throw at me.”

Hudgins has been a full-time RCC student from Fall 2011 to the present, following dual-enrollment classes taken through Mathews High School. She expects to complete her associate degree in May 2014, and plans then to enter Old Dominion University via RCC’s Guaranteed Admission Agreement. There she will continue studying for a bachelor’s degree, also in nursing. Enrolling at ODU will allow her to take all her classes online, “which will give me the opportunity to begin my nursing career right away,” she says. She hopes to find work in a hospital oncology department.

“I got into almost every four-year university that I applied to,” Hudgins confides, “but I still chose to come to RCC because of the school’s affordability, its accessibility, its nursing program, and its scholarship offers. RCC makes the transition from high school to college very smooth.” Hudgins was honored with RCC’s Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship for 2011-12, and has qualified for two more RCC scholarships since then, in addition to several from community sources. “I could not have made it this far without RCC’s generous scholarships,” she says.


At the awards ceremony where she accepted the Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship, Hudgins met RCC’s dean of college advancement and director of the college’s Educational Foundation, Victor Clough. She calls him her favorite administrator, “a shining representative of RCC’s five-star faculty. He has done so much for me during my time here at RCC,” she says. A common interest in acting brought them together for the Court House Players production of “Treasure Island” in Gloucester, and “we became great friends” during the show’s run. “Now he always keeps tabs on me at RCC, and checks on me now and then. If I ever had a problem or needed anything, I know that he would be there.”

While at RCC, Hudgins has had little time for extracurricular activities, due partly to her heavy class schedule and partly to her involvement with the theater. “I started acting and singing with the Court House Players when I was seven, and haven’t stopped since!” she says. “I have been in over 30 musicals and one movie (which I got paid to do).” In addition, “for five years in a row I flew to Missoula, Montana, to participate in the highly competitive Missoula Children’s Theatre Performing Arts Camp. I will be running two children’s theater camps from the same company in Gloucester and Middlesex this July. Musical theater and children’s theater have a special place in my heart, and I love spending all of my free time doing it.” Currently she serves on the Court House Players’ children’s theater board

Since enrolling at RCC, she says, “My experiences have far exceeded my expectations. The small classes, caring teachers, and interesting coursework have made for a wonderful educational experience. The professors are very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise, especially in the nursing program. I know that when I graduate I will have gained much more than just a degree; I will have gained the confidence and skill sets required for a successful nursing career.”

RCC’s nursing faculty, says Hudgins, “rate ten out of ten. They are fantastic! I can’t even imagine how I would survive this tough curriculum without their knowledge and endless support.” She also has a special word of thanks for RCC’s maintenance staff, who “walk the halls every day singing and laughing and spreading joy all over the school, while keeping RCC bright and shiny.”

“Thinking about working as a nurse on my own without the comfort of a professor nearby is pretty terrifying. But thanks to RCC,’ she concludes, “I feel that I will be confident and well-prepared upon graduation.”

4 Responses to “RCC nursing student gets set to pay it forward”

  1. Je'Marc Morton says:

    Mrs. Ayrah Hudgins I am so proud and happy for you. Keep up the good work and I know you will go far. I hope to one day bring my daughter to your theatre camp so that she can have the opportunity to awaken here creativity and animated spirit. Continue to press forward and Let GOD move in your life. Thank You for sharing your story because you have encouraged me.
    GOd Bless you
    Je’Marc Morton
    (the funny guy at the front desk)

  2. Ashley Murphy says:

    I’m so proud of you Aryah! You’re an amazing and well rounded person and I’m honored to also call you my cousin! Keep up the good work and you will do great things and have such a profound impact on the world! Love ya girl!

  3. Sherri S says:

    Awesome! You are an inspiration to everybody around you. Keep up the great work!!!

  4. Mike Jagielski says:

    Aryah, you are truly an inspiration! I admire that you are able to overcome scleroderma and becoming a nurse. You represent our class well and I am proud to have you as a classmate here at RCC! I would be honored to work by your side someday (if that happens) You’re awesome!!

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