A dozen years ago, after the 9/11 attacks and the collapse of the Twin Towers, 12-year-old Amy Dykman worried about hurting and grieving children – and did something about it.
The little Brandon girl started an initiative called “Amy’s Bears Care – And So Do We,” collecting 12,000 bears for children affected by the terrorist attacks. KLLM Transports in Richland, a trucking firm that currently has a partnership with Hinds Community College to teach truck driving, transported Amy Dykman’s bears to a New Jersey elementary school for distribution to children.
“I knew teddy bears had always given me comfort,” Dykman recalls now.
On Thursday, Dec. 19, Dykman, now 24, continues her quest to help others when she walks across the stage at Cain-Cochran Hall on the Raymond Campus of Hinds Community College to receive an Associate Degree in Nursing, or ADN. She’s a student at Hinds’ Jackson Campus-Nursing/Allied Health Center.
“I always had a notion that I wanted to be in a field where I could help people. I hate to see people hurting or in pain. I want to be the person who is there for you and relieve some of the pain,” she said.
Those traits mean Dykman is exactly where she needs to be, said Cynthia Casey, learning lab manager and co-adviser for the Omega chapter of Alpha Delta Nu honor society that Dykman is president of.
Dykman “exemplifies all of the characteristics that we expect from our nursing students,” Casey said. “She has a very caring spirit, not only with her patients but with her classmates. She demonstrates leadership but in an unassuming way. She actively seeks to help others and is always professional and gracious.”
Among family members who will see her graduate are mom Jennifer Dykman, who says Amy has always had a streak of compassion for others. She believes the reason is “without sounding cliché because it’s the truth – the Lord,” said Jennifer Dykman, who attending Hinds in the 1970s.
It’ll be Amy Dykman’s third degree from Hinds. She received a degree in medical office technology in May 2010 and a business accounting degree in December 2010. And she worked more than 20 hours a week in the River Oaks Hospital accounting department the whole time she was in nursing school.
She decided to come to Hinds after asking people she worked with at River Oaks in Flowood where she should enroll. “I’ve been told that people are more likely to hire a Hinds graduate than they are other graduates,” she said.
It’s easy for Dykman to sympathize with others. She’s had her share of troubles. As a young child, she required extensive speech therapy from age 3 to second grade. Then at age 16, serious headaches led to the discovery of a cyst in a sinus cavity. Surgery caused continuing short-term memory issues that Dykman has worked hard to combat throughout her college career.
Nursing school “has definitely been the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s all the knowledge that we have to acquire to know how to treat our patients safely and effectively,” she said.
Her technique for remembering material: Relate a topic to someone she knows. For instance, she related the study of hypertension to her dad, who has hypertension, and pretended she was talking to him about it.
She and her study group partners would meet over the weekend and text or call instructors any time they had a question. “They were always there for us,” she said. “Even if you didn’t have an instructor personally, you could go to any instructor and they would explain things to you.”
Her next step will be to study for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX®) for registered nurses and seek a job at an area hospital. She has her eye on Jackson’s Baptist Medical Center.
Dykman was recognized a number of times as a child for her Amy’s Bears project, including receiving the USA Today Make A Difference Day award, the Baptist Strong Woman award, and the Mayor’s Humanitarian of the Year award from former Mayor Roe Grubbs.
At Hinds, she was named to Who’s Who and was a 3E winner, in addition to being president of Alpha Delta Nu.
Hinds has four graduation ceremonies on Dec. 19 and 20. More than 700 students are expected to graduate.
Charlotte Dupre’, chief executive officer for Central Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, is the speaker on Dec. 19 for the 10 a.m. allied health and practical nursing graduation ceremony as well as the 2 p.m. Associate Degree Nursing ceremony.
Jane Flowers, Work-Based Learning coordinator at Hinds’ Vicksburg-Warren Campus as well as the faculty honoree for the legislative HEADWAE program in February, is the speaker on Dec. 20 for students whose last names begin with A to J at 10 a.m. and those whose last names begin with K to Z at 2 p.m.
For more information, see the Hinds website at www.hindscc.edu.