Before she was Vice President of Academic Affairs at Sampson Community College, Wanda Capps was Division Chair of Health Programs, and Department Chair of Nursing, and an Instructor in the Associate Degree Nursing Program; the list goes on and on. Capps’ resume tells of her journey at Sampson Community College, but the stories and experiences she shares are richer and fuller than anything the pages of her resume could say. Now, after over 30 years of service, Capps plans for her retirement.
Capps graduated from Hobbton High School in Newton Grove. Her parents, who never had the opportunity to attend college, were always sure to emphasize the importance of education in Capps and each of her siblings. In some way, Capps and each of her siblings work in education, so she thinks the emphasis on education had an impact.
“My parents were advocates and set an example of how important education was by being involved in many functions at our schools. Going to college was like asking if you were going to church on Sunday morning, you didn’t ask because it was expected,” Capps remembered.
A graduate of Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College, Capps immediately began working as a Pediatric RN at Wayne Memorial Hospital, now Wayne UNC Health Care. She eventually moved to the same role at Sampson Memorial Hospital, now Sampson Regional Medical Center. Even as she worked in the hospital environment, she knew she wanted to teach.
Her first role at SCC was as a part-time clinical instructor in the nurse aide program. In 1988, she began as an Associate Degree Nursing instructor. As an instructor her days consisted of classroom and clinical instruction. Days could begin as early as 6:30 am, and along with instruction, one-on-one student time and academic counseling were always a part of her routine.
Capps recalled the hours spent writing out transparencies because there were no computers, no PowerPoint, and no email. Early in her career, Capps also instructed Lamaze classes through the Workforce Development and Continuing Education division.
“Wanda Capps will be truly missed by the SCC family. Moving into the Vice-President’s position from heading the nursing program, she became a solid brick in the foundation of the administration of the college. Her guidance and concern were always for the betterment of the students, the college, and the community. Our prayers are with you and your family. Enjoy retirement and enjoy life. Thank you for your time and devotion to the SCC family,” Dr. Ted Thomas, Chair of the SCC Board of Trustees commented.
Capps calls her years at SCC a blessing. Over her time spent at the college, she was able to see the campus grow, and be a part of the changes made. In 1988, the entire campus was made up of only four buildings — she never could have imagined the changes that would occur. At that same time, the Associate Degree Nursing program was the only health care program offered, but now the division has grown to offer six programs. Capps also remembers the effort and dedication required for the nursing programs to attain National Accreditation. Ultimately, she believes that SCC was a gift given to her by a “higher power.”
“I truly believe we end up where we are meant to be. SCC was the best choice for my family and our children. There is a higher power who knew where I needed to be, and I was truly blessed to love what I was doing at SCC. I had the best of both worlds – nursing and teaching,” Capps remarked.
Capps’ fondest memories include time spent with mentors and coworkers from her time at SCC. Nursing faculty like Mary Brown, who was a mentor and with her as the nursing program moved from building to building until finally finding its home in Technology. Staff like Dr. Starling, who she worked with from the beginning, and who has been a source of knowledge and guidance.
Mary Brown, Former Director of Nursing, remembered Capps’ tenacity as a young nurse and her eagerness to teach. Brown says Capps was bright and a joy to be around.
“Most nurses don’t go to school to teach, but when Wanda was working at hospital she wanted to know if she could teach. We all enjoyed one another and loved one another — and Wanda taught me the electric slide at a nurse’s convention. Hiring Wanda was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I certainly wish her well in her retirement,” Brown shared.
Even as much as the mentors and coworkers she has grown to love, Capps says the success and accomplishments of her students have left lasting impressions.
“I remember seeing single moms complete a program that changed their lives and the lives of their children because of a secure job, a home, and food on the table. Or, seeing a student escape circumstances out of their control because they completed their program of study,” Capps recalled. “And the many students who succeeded after suffering the loss of a child or spouse. The list goes on and on with these types of stories; this is what’s memorable and unforgettable.”
Dr. William Starling, President of SCC, and Capps’ longtime coworker praised her dedication to the college and its students.
“There are not adequate expressions of thanks and admiration that I can offer to someone I have worked beside for over 33 years. Wanda’s story is one of devotion to the nursing education and to the faculty and students that she taught and mentored. I can only guess at the number of nursing students who have successfully entered practice who benefitted from her service with SCC. For those of us who work with her each day, we are happy Wanda can now devote herself full-time to yet another important job, that of grandmother,” Starling remarked.
Capps plans to fill her retirement with time spent with her two granddaughters, Katie Jo and Farra Ann. She also plans to make time for her hobbies, embroidery and quilt making and is happy to devote more time to her community and church outreach.
Even after 30 years of service, Capps knows leaving her coworkers and the students at Sampson Community College will not be easy. She says she will continue to cherish the relationships she has created. Capps says she will take a piece of SCC with her and leave a bit of herself behind.
About Sampson Community College: Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options, and early college education.