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.
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
"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
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
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."