Rick and Theresa Gillenwater
Written or last revised on Dec. 16, 2008
After working at VF Jeanswear in Luray, Va. for a combined 33 years, Rick and Theresa Gillenwater were shocked to learn in 2006 that their jobs would be moving overseas. Fortunately, Theresa remembered hearing about the recent opening of Lord Fairfax Community College’s (LFCC) Luray-Page County Center. She researched LFCC’s Nursing Program and decided to go back to school to obtain her nursing degree. As she was nearing completion of her licensed practical nurse (LPN) classes, she convinced her husband Rick to join her at LFCC. “It would give us a chance to continue our education, job security, good pay and an opportunity to give back to our community,” she said.
Rick and Theresa are both now current students at LFCC. With five children between them, they know the journey to becoming registered nurses won’t be easy. But, the Luray-Page County Center’s convenient proximity to their home in Luray has helped them juggle the demands of family, work and school.
“It’s given me the opportunity to go to classes and work without having to travel 45 minutes to the campus at Middletown,” Rick said. As an additional help, in fall 2008, Theresa received the Robert B. Drumheller Scholarship. “It’s made the difference between being able to go to school and staying home.”
Besides its location, Rick said they choose to attend LFCC because of its welcoming environment and high-quality instructors. “I love the friendly atmosphere at LFCC. The one-on-one with instructors and the accessibility of instructors lets you know they really care,” he said. “The instructors go above and beyond to make your studies an enjoyable experience and to see you reach your goals,” Theresa added.
Both Rick and Theresa stay busy with full-time jobs as well as a full load of classes. Theresa works three days a week as an LPN in the medical/surgical unit of Page Memorial Hospital and attends classes the remaining four days. Rick works as a nurse in Page Memorial Hospital’s emergency department, while also attending classes. As part of his job, he administers care to patients with mild to extreme injuries. He says this experience has taught him a lot about the fast pace of a hospital. “We have to try to be prepared for any emergency that may arise,” he said.
In their rare moments of free time, Rick and Theresa enjoy spending time with their family by taking long drives, enjoying ball games or taking trips to the beach. Rick also enjoys hunting and is an avid wood worker who loves to make things for his family.
Even with their incredibly hectic schedules, Rick and Theresa agree that family is always their top priority. Theresa said she knows their current busy schedule will pay off in the future. “Seeing the pride in the eyes of our children when they watch me study, knowing the sacrifices I have to make to finish my education … They make the long, hard days worth every minute.”