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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Margarieta Gellman

Image of Margarieta Gellman outside on the SCC campus.After 20 years of experience working on the administrative side of healthcare in the U.S. Army, Margarieta Gellman decided to go back to school. She enrolled in Sandhills Community College’s Nursing program. “I’d heard from many that Sandhills has a great reputation for educating nurses,” she said.

Margarieta joined the Army when she was 17, and retired after 25 years of service this past January. “Time goes by fast!” she said. In her career with the Army, Margarieta worked closely with medical staff – Medical doctors, dentists, nurses, veterinarians, and a host of other medical specialists, managing their patient care, planning for their logistics for healthcare facilities all over the world. “Think M*A*S*H,” she explained. To her staff of medical professionals, she said, “Your job is to save my life, I’ll do the rest of the Army stuff.”

Her favorite experience from her years in the Army was her time with the Army Reserves while serving with the 48th Combat Support Hospital. In July of 2016, Margarieta traveled to Chenango, New York, with her unit for Innovative Readiness Training. There, her unit, along with service members from the Marines and Air Force collaborated to provide no-cost medical care to an underserved population. “We helped anybody and everyone who needed healthcare – x-rays, glasses, even veterinary services. I’m proud of that. We changed lives.”

Several of her friends who are nurses encouraged Margarieta to consider nursing as a career. Through an internet search, she found Sandhills.

“Enrolling in the SCC nursing program was the first time I have been able to attend school full-time in a very long time, she said. “I had reservations if I could do it. Teresa Taylor in the Ryan Veterans Center is amazing. She walked me through activating my benefits and encouraged me when I took a break from the program,” she said.

“SCC is truly veteran-friendly. Everyone from Dr. Dempsey to the instructors in our program works hard to make our transition into civilian education smooth.

“My husband had to PCS (change his duty station) but I didn’t want to leave my unit in Maryland. I was in a leadership position that didn’t allow me to drill closer to home. To meet my Reserve obligations, I had to drive up north to my reserve unit every month. The drive alone was demanding and made coming back to class on Mondays a challenge. I am grateful for those who allowed flexibility and worked with my schedule.”

I have had my share of hardships while going through school,” Margarieta said. “The biggest I would have to say is losing my mom. She was sick for a while but I was hoping she would hang on and be able to see me graduate, but that would not be in the cards. I had to lean on my family a great deal to stay on course. Of course, we all had to deal with going to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Margarieta is grateful that SCC found a way to keep her on track with classes during the lockdown. “Being able to continue my studies kept me grounded, although it added new layer of challenge to our already demanding program. It helped me focus on and understand the importance of the career I am entering.”

Margarieta is on the path to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Nursing after SCC. “My credentials from Sandhills will allow for more opportunities than I can even appreciate right now,” she said. For now, she’s taking her future one day at a time but is looking forward to starting her career as a nurse. “It’s always been in my blood to help any way I can.”

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