Future Woman of Distinction has Pioneer spirit
A pioneer is one who triumphs over hard times and perseveres. Harrison’s Linda Pumphrey is that kind of person.
Because of her strength of character and future potential to help others, she has been chosen as the 2012 Women of Distinction Scholarship recipient. Pumphrey will receive a tuition scholarship to attend North Arkansas College. She received her nursing pin last May and is continuing her education.
Raised in Strasburg, Colorado, Linda comes from a long line of strong women. Her mother served the community in many roles, one of which was a 4-H leader. “As a child I was a member and then the obvious next step was to become a 4-H leader alongside my momma. I wanted to become a veterinarian but that education was out of reach so I applied and was accepted by the Bel Rea Institution of Animal Technology after high school and become a Colorado state certified veterinary technician.”
Her early work experiences revealed a person who loves to care for the medical needs of people and animals.
She entered the U.S. Navy and was awarded advanced placement into first Hospital Corps School, which is the civilian equivalent to LPN training and then to Medical Laboratory Technician school. While in the Navy she met her husband, Richard and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan where they celebrated the arrival of a son, Beau.
She eventually moved back to Arkansas and traveled around the state with her husband’s newspaper career. In each location, two activities were constant: working in healthcare and within the community through the local historical society, art council, the public school and church.
Her young family expanded to include a daughter, Calla. An opportunity to return to Harrison arose and the family jumped at the chance to be near their dad’s childhood home in Lead Hill.
“While in Harrison I was asked to serve on the board of Main Street Harrison and throughout my terms on the board with the help of my committee, we were able to institute the first local historical register, Historic Homes of Harrison.
It was also my honor to be elected to the board of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas. The state support, information and lobbying group promoting historical preservation in Arkansas,” Linda says.
The children graduated from Harrison High School as “Goblins”. Linda was working at Quest Diagnostics traveling over Northwest Arkansas and Southeastern Missouri where she enjoyed helping her clients and caring for patients.
In May 2002, her husband was killed in a car crash near Benton, AR. He was 47. Beau was 20 and Calla was 15.
Linda says “knowing my husband was not coming home is the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in my life.”
Friends and family provided an outpouring of affection and support during the difficult time.
A widowed mother, Linda supported her family by continued through her care-giving work until she received notification the company was downsizing. Her job would end in December 2008.
Linda continued to work without knowing what the future held when she became nauseated and dizzy. She went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a rare benign brain tumor that affected her balance and ultimately her hearing in the right ear.
While the diagnosis was still new and settling in on her, she was involved in a car accident while driving to her soon-to-end job.
“My first thought when the airbag deflated was, I’m going to be late for work!”
She sustained a cracked collarbone, a cracked sternum, broken ribs, and a small fracture in the left hip, a fracture in the L-4 vertebrae, a gash, and nerve damage in her left knee along with three fractures and all the tendons and ligaments torn in her right foot.
She began a six-week recovery period and was confined to a wheelchair. Returning to work using a walker and big boot, Linda took care of patients from a chair, leaning on the counter or walker, often with her boot propped up on a stool.
“I was asked to stay on two more weeks after the lab was closed to continue to draw the patients and prepare their specimens, alone. I did it, but it was probably the hardest two weeks I’ve done.
Without a job and knowing I had always wanted to be a nurse and having just graduated from the walker to a quad cane I registered at North Arkansas College.”
Linda spent five months in physical therapy and was never seen without a textbook. She pushed herself, excelled in class and clinicals. Her work paid off. She earned a 4.0 and was a member of the Dean’s List. Fully enjoying the overall college experience at Northark, she joined Phi Theta Kappa and served her class as Vice President and fundraising chairperson.
Kathryn Jones, RN instructor says, “Nurses have to carry trays, get linens and perform a variety of physical tasks. Even though Linda used a cane when she was in class, I never customized an assignment to accommodate her. She was even able to assist people in getting up! The handicap was never a disadvantage. She always went above and beyond exhibiting her “bloom where you’re planted” attitude”.
Pumphrey has been accepted into the fast track RN to MSN program at Missouri State University. She still needs to take courses at Northark and the scholarship will help financially.
Her ultimate goal after completing her education is to return to Northark, the college she loves as an instructor. It is fitting the mascot is a Pioneer.
Pumphrey summed up her priorities, “Teaching and caring for as many people as I possibly can is important to me. I have overcome multiple obstacles, some I have just learned to live with, but I haven’t found anything that can steal the spirit in me encouraged by that long line of strong women and given to me by God.”