Head of the class

Undaunted by a rigorous nursing curriculum, Jami Funderburg carries a 3.8 GPA and has received several scholarships and academic honors. But her greatest strength, her professors say, is her ability to care for patients.

Jami Funderburg

Family comes first for Jami Funderburg. In fact, her daughter and grandfather are the main motivations behind her near-perfect academic record in the UTA undergraduate nursing program.

After graduating from Keller High School in 1995, Funderburg attended a medical assisting school in Fort Worth. "It was the convenient thing to do at the time," she said. She then worked in a family medicine practice for two years, becoming more and more interested in patient care.

"I really enjoyed actually working with the patients, helping them, teaching them," she said.

But an assistant can only do so much, and Funderburg's grandfather began encouraging her to go to college and earn a full-fledged nursing degree. He agreed to help with financial support, so she enrolled at Tarrant County College and later transferred to UTA. Now in her final semester, she carries a 3.8 GPA, which she credits to her grandfather, 7-year-old Chandler and her parents, who care for Chandler while Funderburg spends long hours in classes and clinical rotations.

"Whenever somebody is providing a way for me, of course I'm going to do my best and work hard," she said. "I want to make my grandfather proud.

"And I want to be able to provide my daughter with a good life as well."

Funderburg's hard work has not gone unnoticed by her professors and peers. She received an Outstanding Clinical Award in both her Foundations of Nursing and Pediatric Nursing classes.

"In my clinical rotation with Jami, she took care of children from 6 weeks to 6 years of age with a variety of medical problems," nursing Specialist Becky Althaus said. "She performed outstanding work in all areas, and the children just loved her. Jami's observation skills are so good that I'm sure she would make an excellent Sherlock Holmes or Nancy Drew! She was always playing with the children after all the procedures and medications were completed."

Nursing Specialist Alean Royes nominated Funderburg for the University Academic Excellence Award, for which she was named a University Scholar.

"She always strives for excellence," Royes said. "She sets high goals for herself and follows through to accomplish them. She's very organized and wants to be a good nurse. That desire is obvious in all of her work. She excels in her care of patients and shows a very caring attitude. She also demonstrates the critical thinking skills and excellent time management that are essential to nursing.

"She is definitely a leader among her peers."

This year, Funderburg leads her peers as vice president of the Black Student Nurses Association. She is also the recipient of the Nursing School's Elizabeth Ann Alsbury Memorial Scholarship.

Funderburg plans to continue leading and serving as a professional nurse, eventually becoming a family nurse practitioner. This semester she's using the Advanced Medical/Surgical class and clinical rotation to help her decide whether she wants to focus on pediatric or adult medicine. She has already determined that she prefers working with the most critically ill and injured patients.

"I know that emergency medicine or intensive care will be great for me," she said. "Now I just need to choose if it will be with children or adults."

Royes believes that wherever Funderburg works, her patients will receive superior care. "If I am ever in the hospital," she said, "Jami is the kind of nurse I want to take care of me."


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