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Meg Duggan (FitzPatrick), '06

Posted: 8/30/2013

Meg, you were a member of the first graduating class of Holy Spirit Prep. Can you share with me the most memorable experience you cherish from your time at HSP? The most memorable experiences are all of the “firsts” that happened, since we were the first class to experience pretty much everything – dances, retreats, lock-ins, pranks, trips – you name it and we probably did it first. We transitioned to the new campus from our sophomore to junior year. It was really fantastic to feel like the new campus could be ours and a place to leave a legacy once we were gone. I remember finding the first gargoyle in our senior year, in Mr. Genner’s ceiling in his office, and then we set off fireworks near the fountain to celebrate. That was awesome. I keep in touch with a few of my classmates, mostly through Facebook, but what I really enjoy the most is seeing everyone so happy with their careers and families. I also try to attend the Christmas Eve brunch if I’m not working.

Speaking of work, you practice nursing now. Can you tell me how you became interested in becoming a nurse? I never thought I was going to become a nurse. My mom has been a nurse now for 30+ years at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and when I was 15, I started volunteering at the hospital, working with sick kids and their families. It was at that time that I knew I could spend the rest of my life taking care of sick kids and making a difference by becoming a nurse. I love taking care of people, and I’m a huge nerd when it comes to medicine and science. I wouldn’t say that anyone in particular from HSP encouraged me to be a nurse, but I will say that Mrs. Lee and Mr. Verlander were two of the best role models for me. They both had so much passion for teaching and specifically for their subject matter, biology and theology, respectively, that I knew that I could be successful as long as I pursued my passion. Once that clicked, everything else fell into place and I realized God’s plan for me was to be an ICU nurse. Mr. Genner was also a great mentor when I was in high school and he continues to advise me about my professional goals now.

Can you share with us a neat internship you were involved in while studying at Mercer University? While I was at Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University, I was on the Georgia Association of Nursing Students (GANS) as Legislative Director. The year before that I also served in the same role but at the school-wide level. In those two years as Legislative Director, I learned a lot about legislation and what it takes to affect change. I was a voice for student nurses and the future of nursing. I never knew I could motivate, empower, and cultivate leaders like that before I took that role. I also was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nurses, which was my proudest accomplishment in nursing school.

I understand that you work at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, how has your faith strengthened you to carry out your daily duties? My faith has been such an important part of my nursing vocation. I pursued nursing because I felt God call me towards it, but once I started my career, I quickly saw how my faith would be tested in my day-to-day life. I see some of the most critically sick kids in the South East. Sometimes kids are born with chronic and/or terminal diseases and other kids are perfectly healthy until they get into a freak accident one day. Sometimes kids grow up in really unsafe homes with parents who neglect them or even abuse them. I see really sad things. It’s hard not to pass judgment sometimes, it’s hard to accept that bad things happen to good people, and it’s hard to grapple with what’s right and wrong. There are so many gray areas; it’s never black and white. I’ve learned to stop carrying the burden of worry, anger, fear, sadness, and let it go by giving it to God. I have to or I can’t do my job.  

What is the best advice you can give someone who is interested in or on the way to a becoming a nurse? The best advice I can give someone who is considering nursing is to volunteer or shadow someone who is a nurse, and if you already know what specialty area, try to shadow someone in that field. I’ve had a few HSP alumni shadow me, email me, and call me just to get an idea of whether they might like nursing. I think that’s fantastic. Talk to as many people that you can and you’ll know pretty quickly if you are going to like it or not. Nursing is very tough but very rewarding, and you’ll always have a job.

Can you tell us a little about what it is like to be a military wife? Well, my husband Matthew was in the Army from 2006-2012. He and I met on eHarmony when I was in nursing school and he was in Iraq. He used to be a door gunner on Blackhawk helicopters and a mechanic on Apache helicopters. Long story short, we’ve spent a lot of time long distance, but when you love someone, you’ll tough it out as long as you know there is light at the end of the tunnel. For us, that was when he was getting out of the military in May 2012. Since then he’s been finishing his bachelor’s degree at Georgia State and we now live in Buford, GA, in the same neighborhood as my parents. We have two cats: our 15-pound cat, Mr. Chubbs and Darwin, our tiny black kitten. 

Meg on the job as a nurse.

Meg with her father on her wedding day.

Meg and her husband Matthew.