MCC Hall of Fame honoree: Dr. Sarah Abernathy

As a six-year-old child, Sarah Garner would visit a Meridian hospital, taking in the surroundings, watching others care for her grandmother, and dreaming of becoming a nurse. 

Today, Dr. Sarah Garner Abernathy lives her dream of caring for others as a Family Nurse Practitioner and Geriatric Scholar with the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She was co-founder and worked as a Family Nurse Practitioner with Wesley House Community Charity Clinic. Meridian Community College is among those she credits for helping her to help others. 

"MCC afforded me the opportunity to obtain a solid academic foundation to pursue higher levels of education in which I was able to continue to obtain a BSN, MSN, and DNP," she said. 

Dr. Abernathy is one of three MCCers who will be added to the College's Hall of Fame roster on Wednesday, March 6, during a ceremony spotlighting the honorees' achievements. Hosted by the MCC Foundation, the induction ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. in the McCain Theater, with a reception in the College's PTK Courtyard of Scholars, adjacent to Ivy-Scaggs Hall. Other Class of 2024 Hall of Fame members include David Garner and David Quave.  

This year’s ceremony marks the first time a brother and sister (Dr. Abernathy and Garner) will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

Completing her junior and senior high school years at 17, Dr. Abernathy took the next step and came to her hometown community college. She enrolled in Anatomy and Physiology, a class that is essential in medical training. "As it may seem insignificant but when I passed my first A&P exam with an A, this motivated me to achieve my dream. It was a surreal moment to transition from high school to my first college course," she remembered. 

Her instructor for the science class was Sam Culpepper. "He motivated me to achieve a higher level of learning and a self-awareness toward learning, and I believed that I could achieve," she said. Her fondest memory from MCC, though, was when she received her associate's degree in nursing at the age of 19. 

After finishing her community college studies, Dr. Abernathy earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi's School of Nursing, which hosted a Meridian Campus at the time. She received her Master of Science degree in nursing/case management/family nurse practitioner from the University of Mississippi School of Nursing and a Doctor of Nursing Practice from USM in Hattiesburg. 

The world of nursing offers a myriad of specialties, and Dr. Abernathy has ventured into many areas. Among those included an emergency department nurse manager, facilitator, staff nurse, and obstetric charge nurse. She holds professional certifications as a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, Certified Critical Care Nurse of the Year, and Certified Emergency Nurse. 

Her work in nursing has also yielded her recognition as VAM Geriatric Scholar, Mississippi State Nurse of the Year, Mississippi Nurses Association District #16 Critical Care Nurse of the Year, and being inducted to Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. 

"Success for me is achieving dreams and goals on a path of continual growth of self-development and self-fulfillment to be able to give back to the community that empowered my achievements," Dr. Abernathy said. 

She continues to give back to her community by serving on the Veterans Affairs Medical Center's Caregiver Support Program Steering Committee, and she was also appointed to the Education Council Magnet by the VAMC. 

Dr. Abernathy is appreciative. "I am so thankful and grateful for my relationship with God, The Higher Power, my family, and my community. They are the reasons for my achievements,” she said, adding she trusts and believes in God’s guidance over her life and acknowledges the support of family and friends. 

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