Brianna Hawkins found her passion for nursing through family


Name: Brianna Hawkins

College: ECU College of Nursing

Major: Nursing

Age: 22

Classification/Year: Senior

Hometown: Nashville, N.C.

Hobbies/interests: I’m a coffee enthusiast and love to hang out with my friends.

Clubs and Organizations: Multicultural Student Nurse Association, East Carolina Association of Nursing Students, East Carolina University Ambassadors


Favorite hangout: Outdoors

Favorite place on campus: Balcony of Laupus Library

Favorite place to eat: Sup Dogs

Favorite class: Nursing Care of Adults

Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Beth Bryant

Favorite TV show: “GMaid”        

Favorite band/musician: Ariana Grande

Favorite movie: “13 Going on 30”

What is/are your superpowers? I think my superpowers include my ability to stay optimistic and how quickly I adjust to change and my perseverance.


Dream job: Pediatric acute care nurse practitioner

Role model: Princess Diana

What advice do you have for other students? It will not always be easy but it will be worth it. There might be times where you feel like giving up but don’t. You will have to push yourself. Remember there were times where being here was just a dream. If you fail, do not beat yourself up. Failing is just your first attempt in learning.

Not long after Brianna Hawkins’ life began, she was airlifted to Pitt County Memorial Hospital, where a health care team performed a life-saving surgery to connect her esophagus to her stomach.

Now, more than 20 years after her introduction to the world, to health care and to what is now Vidant Medical Center, Hawkins is graduating from East Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and plans to begin her career in pediatric emergency care at the same hospital where her life was saved.

The first-generation graduate from Rocky Mount found a passion for nursing early in her childhood, imitating the care she saw nurses giving to her grandmother during her battles with cancer, diabetes and kidney and heart disease.

“There would be a home health nurse that would come out and care for her. I would see her go to her doctor’s appointments. We would sit outside and I would just kind of play nurse. She loved how much I was willing to help out and just talk to her and be there for her,” Hawkins said.

“She would always say, ‘You’re going to be a great nurse one day,’ so I kind of knew then that I wanted to do nursing.”

Hawkins’ interest in nursing deepened as her mother, an immigrant from Honduras, shared more about her birth story and the health care team that provided care and support for her and her parents.

That interest grew again after her mother explained how her father died from a random act of violence, and how a friend who had been there regretted not being able to offer more help.

“I really feel like nursing gives people the opportunity to connect with others in a way that proves to people that they matter, and to be a light to them even when it’s a bad situation — or, when it’s a good situation, because nurses are there when it’s the best and worst times in a patient’s life,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins’ return to Vidant Medical Center offers her the opportunity to give back to the health care community that saved her life as a newborn, and to pay it forward to new generations of children in need of emergency care.

“I feel like I’m giving back to them and Greenville,” Hawkins said. “They saved my life, so I want to be there and save other people.”

Hawkins, a first-generation graduate from Rocky Mount, found a passion for nursing early in her childhood. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)