Going Far: Alumna Melissa Cunningham excels with nursing degree

Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Written by: Lauren Leetun for Seminole State

Melissa Cunningham decided to go back to school in 2012 following a series of hardships including an accident involving a drunken driver and her son developing a severe heart condition. A Sanford resident at the time, she selected Seminole State College of Florida to pursue her degree, and she was one of four students from Seminole State College to earn a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship in 2015. At that time, the College was only the second in the nation to have had four Jack Kent Cooke scholars in one year. 

(L-R) Melissa Cunningham, Juliana Rodriguez, Sebastian Roubert and Shannon Conner won the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship in 2015.

Cunningham used her transfer scholarship to attend the University of Southern Maine (USM), where she graduated in May 2018 from the honors program with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as well as a biology minor. Continuing her tradition of achievement, she graduated from USM Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA, and was inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society, the Phi Kappa Phi honors society, and the Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society of Nursing. She also served as an officer for the Student Nurse Organization and was the student representative for the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee for the School of Nursing. She was selected to be the 2018 class marshal for the School of Nursing and was a 2018 USM featured graduate. 

Melissa Cunningham accepts her diploma from University of Southern Maine alongside her son.

When she walked across the stage to receive her diploma, she was joined by her son, whom the university's president had invited to be with her. She was recently selected as a 2018 Jack Kent Cooke graduate scholar and accepted into the Master of Science in Nursing program at USM, where she is studying to become a family psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner. When she's not doing schoolwork, she works at Milestone Recovery, a nonprofit detox center in Maine, as a charge nurse, helping people detox from alcohol, opiates and other addictive substances.

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