Welcome to Conversations with Cavaliers. In this issue, Mrs. Holloway (Upper School Latin) interviews Nurse Holland about her life-long passion for serving others – from medical care to service projects for her family.
Hi, Nurse Holland! Tell me about where you were and what you were doing before you came to Atlanta Classical.
I was a level 1 trauma nurse working at Atlanta Medical Center in the heart of Atlanta. I was there a long time. My children were at the Heiskell School before it closed, so we had a great connection with former families. I heard about the opening at ACA and they asked me if I wanted to be a part-time nurse (while staying in trauma). I interviewed in the “war room” – the room where the vision of ACA originally came to life, and it reminded me of trauma on a whole other level! Two years ago I came on full-time.
What led you to become a nursing specialist? Do you have any specific memories where you just knew what your calling was, or did your career path take a meandering route?
The first books my grandfather gave me were actually medical dictionaries. I spent a lot of time boring people with facts from those. I used my cousins as my patients because my siblings wouldn’t allow it. But my cousins had no idea!
Both my father and grandfather were in the medical field, so I always knew I’d take this path. Early on I thought I would be a trauma surgeon. Then I had a daughter and decided on another route in medicine, so I became a nurse. I researched through shadowing and clinical rotations to see what the value of a nurse actually was, where I had the most autonomy, and where I thought I could pull all parts of medicine into one. That was trauma critical care – you really have to know all things!
What was one challenge you faced when pursuing your goal of being a nursing specialist? How did you overcome that challenge?
My first was that I am NOT a night person. They start you out at night. Luckily they ended up needing me more on days, which was a godsend for me. As a new nurse, knowing when to let go was my second challenge. You can find yourself fighting and fighting because there’s always that 50 percent chance. For me the end of life was always very hard, even though they told me that outcome would be more likely than not. I always wanted to present the patient as their family remembered them.
If you weren’t in the medical field at all, what do you think your profession would be, and why?
Forensics or intelligence – both involve investigating the why, and trying to understand the processes of the brain. Both are scientific and look for patterns to find out what’s going on.
What is your favorite book, or who is your favorite author, and why?
Toni Morrison, Sara Young, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou. I love all different genres of books. For me, I am not really a series person – I need a story that has a path from beginning to end.
What is your absolute favorite meal of all time? (Don’t forget dessert!!)
This may sound simple, but my favorite food is anything my husband grills. I think he is the best grill master in the world. My second would be Linguine Mediterranean from Novo Cucina. I also love homemade bread pudding with rum caramel sauce.
Speaking of your husband and family, what’s your favorite way to spend time together?
If we are local, just being in the same room watching the same things or chatting with the kids. Our favorite pastime is travel – we love going to the beach together. But downtime at home is the best.
Other than saving lives, do you have any surprising hobbies or interests?
Outside of travel – I love to write. I love to read but writing is my passion. I write poetry or just write in my journal. I love being a cheer coach for my ACA girls.
I’m also very dedicated to service projects – for my team but also for my family. We make sure to get in multiple service projects a year. I want to make sure that they understand it’s our obligation to serve others.
I strongly believe in the mission and the energy and passion behind creating Atlanta Classical Academy. Once I interviewed and met the people who would be leading the school, I was even more impressed. I mentioned the “war room” earlier where I interviewed. What most people may not realize is that there were no chairs, no tables – just butcher paper all along the walls in what is now the Resource Room, strategizing what Atlanta Classical would look like based on the mission. It’s so neat to see how far we’ve come.