Morgan Pinning
Morgan Smith grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, fascinatingly watching her grandmother and mother transform the lives of countless patients they encountered. Her grandmother was a lifelong nurse, working her way up from nurse management to vice president of patient care before she became a nurse consultant and traveled across the country. “It was her passion, and she just loved it,” Smith said proudly. Smith’s mom has been a nurse for more than 30 years, ranging from the ICU to CVICU. After being a nurse educator at the University of Alabama, she went back to school to eventually became a nurse anesthetist.

From NASCAR to Nursing School

Smith went to school at Auburn University and earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations before she started working in Tuscaloosa, where she met her husband. The two moved to Charlotte, where Smith started working as a marketing and event planning professional for a sports marketing agency heavily involved with NASCAR.

Smith traveled a lot during her time with NASCAR. “It was fun, but I did not have time at home, and work was never turned off. I just felt like I was not helping people in the way that I wanted,” she said. The natural next move was the nursing field because it was a career path her mom and grandmother talked so highly about.

Nursing School Journey

It took going down a different career path to realize that nursing was where Smith wanted to end up. So she applied to the Louise Harkey School of Nursing at Cabarrus College of Health Sciences, and she got in. Smith was also able to take advantage of the Atrium Health Forgivable Loan and received the Volunteers of Atrium Health Scholarship.

During her time at Cabarrus College, Smith’s grandmother gave her a lot of solid advice and was able to share her first semester with her. “We talked on the phone a lot about what I was working on often. She was excited and supportive of anything that I did, but knowing that it was nursing, she was on another level of excitement,” Smith said. 

Unfortunately, during Smith’s second semester of nursing school, her grandmother passed away. The two had been inseparable and would take trips together every summer. “She told me stories about her life and nursing. She decided to give her nursing pin to me and asked that I take good care of it long before I knew I was going to become a nurse,” Smith said. 

Capping and Pinning Ceremony

This May, Smith, along with 48 other nursing graduates, participated in the Louise Harkey School of Nursing Capping and Pinning Ceremony. The ceremony is a celebration of the graduates completion of nursing school and welcomes the new graduates into nursing. Smith’s entire family got to attend this special occasion. Her mother had the honor to cap and pin Smith, using the same pin her grandmother used in 1961. Smith’s father was sitting in the audience, beaming with excitement as they announced the use of his mother’s pin.

MorganSmith_CappingandPinning Story Image  “It was super special to have my mom cap and pin me because I look up to her. And when they mentioned that I was using my grandmother's pin, it just made me feel like she was looking down, smiling, and she was part of the ceremony even though she was not physically there,” Smith said. 

Future Plans and Advice

Smith recently passed the NCLEX exam and will start her nursing career at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center in the cardiothoracic ICU this summer. All May 2023 Cabarrus College nurse graduates will be employed by Atrium Health after passing the NCLEX exam. Smith also plans to obtain her BSN degree soon. She explains, “Do not hesitate to make a career change; even though it seems hard and daunting, you can do it if it's your passion.”