Cerrianne Leatherland

Cerrianne LeatherlandCerrianne Leatherland knows first-hand that starting her academic career at the Luray-Page County Center was a decision that allowed her to become the person she wanted to become.

A 2007 graduate of Page County High School, Cerrianne graduated in 2015 from James Madison University with a bachelor of science degree in nursing. She is employed as an emergency room nurse at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg. The Stanley native started her education at Lord Fairfax Community College’s Luray-Page County Center in 2007. With little money in hand, the decision to attend LFCC in Luray was an economic one. The Center was less than a year old when Dr. Eddie Walker, the advisor at the time, met with students at Page County High School to sell the college to prospective students.

“I financed all of my own education,” Cerrianne said. “I worked at Hardees and as a lifeguard at the Hawksbill Pool. Then I learned that I could make great some tip money waitressing.”

Cerrianne also worked at the iconic Mimslyn Hotel and at the former Artisan’s Grill as a waitress. She often brought her tip money to pay tuition, sometimes dollar bills, fives, tens and even pocket change of nickels, dimes and quarters. Her beginnings were humble.  

Cerrianne found herself having to stay organized continuously and not think too far in advance. She took every day, one day at a time, in pursuit of her goals. Being at Luray, close to home was helpful because of economics and little travel time. She was able to work and attend classes at the same time, and feels that she did not miss out on anything by going to community college first.

“Everyone at the Center was great,” she said. “They were extremely helpful. If I ever had questions or problems, they would be solved there. They were helpful and accommodating.”

Cerrianne received her general studies degree from LFCC in 2010, and her Associates Degree in Nursing in 2012. The decision to become a nurse was a result of care that her grandmother received from the nurses at the assisted living facility where her grandmother was a patient.

“My grandmother was my favorite person in the world,” said Cerrianne. “She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the nurses at the facility were kind and interacted with her in a loving way. I decided to be like them. They were incredible women and I wanted to be like them.”

Cerrianne worked at the Life Care Center in New Market, Virginia after receiving her associates degree and becoming a registered nurse. She worked at Life Care for 2 ½ years and then made the decision to go back to college and obtain her BSN. She started at JMU in January 2015 and finished in December 2015. In between that time, she worked on an “as needed” basis at Life Care and then obtained a full-time job in the Emergency Room at RMH in May 2015.

She found the nursing academics at LFCC to be rigorous and is thankful for a program that prepared her for the next phase of her career.

“The LFCC professors made us strive for good grades and doing our best,” she said. “We are taking care of people. We are responsible for their lives and that is the culture they instilled in us.”

All LFCC classes transferred into the JMU program and there were no re-dos or take overs, she added. So no extra money was spent by the student, which was another true cost savings.

LFCC Nursing Faculty Member Donna Burge said this of her former student, “Cerrianne was the type of student that every professor enjoys having in their class, a motivated and enthusiastic learner. Her success is no surprise to me, and I know she is and will continue to be an invaluable asset to her patients, coworkers, and community.”

Many of the friendships she made at the Luray-Page County Center are ongoing. Among some of her favorite professors were Fred Emmons, Gail Price and Dr. Walker. In her spare time, Cerrianne enjoys running and kayaking on the river and hopes to travel more in the future.

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