Student: Abby Coderre
East Carolina University nursing student Abby Coderre always knew she wanted to work in health care. As she grew up, challenges thrown her way showed her that nursing is what she is meant to do.
When Coderre was nine, she had her first experiences with medical testing and at age 13 she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. “Seeing what the nurses did for the patients really inspired me,” Coderre said. “Those were some of the first moments I wanted to do nursing.”
The summer going into her sophomore year at ECU, Coderre was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She underwent almost three years of treatment while continuing nursing school.
During her treatment, she changed to part-time online learning, taking two or three courses at a time. She continued part-time until she was accepted into the College of Nursing, where she began full-time, in-person learning, all while continuing her treatment.
“For the first year of treatment I was getting chemo every week, then it switched to once a month and that is when I switched to being in-person,” Coderre said. “It wasn’t as hard to balance, but it certainly added another challenge not many college students have.”
Because of her experiences with her diagnosis and treatment, she spent a lot of time in medical settings. “I know what it feels like to be a patient, and I have been able to draw from that when I am learning as a nurse,” she said.
While going through treatment, Coderre also worked at the Ronald McDonald house from October 2020 through June as a guest services associate.
Coderre made sure to stay involved on campus too. She got involved with the Newman Center as a freshman, and the summer before her sophomore year she worked on campus as an orientation assistant. “I had to stop halfway through the summer because of my diagnosis, but that job made me my best friends,” she said. “It was more than just a job; it is a lot of work, but it is so much fun.”
Coderre lived in the nursing living and learning community as a first-year student and came back the next year to be a mentor. “The mentorship has still continued even though I am not technically a mentor anymore,” she said. “Those relationships still continue as everyone moves through school.”
As a mentor, she planned activities for welcome week, helped students study for classes and became a figure to look up to. “It was nice to spend time with my friends through this, and it helped me keep a sense of normalcy,” she said.
The future is exciting for Coderre. After graduation in December, she will begin working at ECU Health on the pediatric floor.
“The College of Nursing does a great job of preparing you for post-grad plans,” she said. “They work on your resume and cover letter with you and bring in representatives from different hospitals every week.
“The hospitals are there for you, so you get to ask different questions based on what you’re looking for in a job,” Coderre said. “There are a lot of hospitals out there that you don’t know exist or you don’t have the experience there.”
The application and interview process happens before graduation, which takes a big weight off students like Coderre. “It is really nice to be able to graduate and already know you have something there,” she said. “It gives you something to look forward to while you’re doing other stuff like studying for the NCLEX and getting ready to graduate.”
Coderre has received the Marine Corps Scholarship due to her father’s service in the Marine Corps. She also received the Cancer for College scholarship, and gave back by raising money for the scholarship fund. The top 30 fundraisers were taken on a trip to Disneyland, where they were able to get to know other cancer survivors and were also taken on a behind-the-scenes tour.
Coderre also loves to go to the beach, paint and spend time with her friends. To read more about Coderre’s story, visit her CaringBridge site.
Name: Abby Coderre
College: College of Nursing
Hometown: Wilmington, North Carolina
Hobbies/interests: Going to Pure Barre to workout, watching movies, and painting
Clubs and Organizations: Newman Center; orientation assistant; Future Pirate Nurse Living Learning Community
Favorite hangout: The beach
Favorite place on campus: Health Sciences Student Center
Favorite place to eat: Basil’s
Favorite class: Nursing Care of Clients with Alterations in Mental Health
Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Joy Shepard – my pediatric clinical instructor
Favorite TV show: “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”
Favorite bands/musicians: Morgan Wallen
Favorite movie: “Hairspray”
Favorite app: TikTok
Dream job: Pediatric oncology nurse
Role models: Dr. Aundrea Oliver – the most amazing surgeon and person that has ever graced my life by saving my life!
Your words to live by: God’s not done with you.
What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? All the trips and events that the student rec center offers. Even if you aren’t an athletic person, there are still activities like paddleboarding at the north rec complex or tubing down the Tar River that are free to students.