STEPHEN H. COWLES/STAFF WRITER
The Tidewater News
Tiffany Holden and Shawn Battle have been walking a path together, and not just as sister and brother. On Friday night, they each reached a proverbial milestone when they received their degrees as registered nurses during the graduation ceremony at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin.
“It’s been a long journey,” Holden said with laughter. A 2002 graduate of Southampton High School, she’s been involved in a nursing role ever since. She first went to Norfolk State University, but came back home and continued studies at PDCCC.
“NSU was really a little tougher, but Paul D. Camp has been a little bit more one-on-one and closer to home.”
The education was complicated when a family member became ill.
“My biological mother — Marilyn Holden — got sick in 2006,” she said. “I continued to the nursing after she died.”
After becoming a licensed practical nurse, Holden, 30, got work as a nurse at the Deerfield Correctional Center, where’s she’s been since.
But her sights in the nursing profession have always been set higher.
“I just knew that being an LPN wasn’t going to be all. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I will go on to get my bachelor’s degree,” said Holden. “I’m hoping to get hired into the [Southampton Memorial] hospital.”
All along the career track, her family has been cheering her along.
“My mother and father, Clara and Henry Battle, are the inspiration — as well as my three daughters, Armaiya, Abrielle and Amia — they inspire me every day.
“If not for my parents I would be nowhere near complete and probably would never have started,” she said. “They are my backbone. I give them the 100 percent credit.”
In turn, Holden became an inspiration of sorts for Shawn Battle, who lives in Franklin.
“I’m a former IP employee of 20 years — working on the paper machine and later as a windup operator. I first got introduced to nursing during her LPN graduation. I thought, ‘What would I do if something should happen to the mill?’”
Battle, 42, then got started after her ceremony to become an LPN himself.
“My road hasn’t been as long as hers,” he acknowledged.
Meanwhile, it so happened that the mill closed.
“I was also at Deerfield for a bit, and returned to IP for its startup, and then returned to PDCCC to get an RN degree,” he added. “I knew I was going higher. I did some agency work and get satisfaction out of helping people and taking care of individuals.”
Like his sister, Battle hopes to get work in some medical or service hospital, and will also pursue a BSN later.
Like Holden, Battle’s cheerleaders are his family.
“In my little journey, a lot of credit goes to my wife and kids — Vengeria Battle and Shawn II and Trinade Battle, Jazzi King — for their support,” he said, adding that without them, he wouldn’t have made it so far.
Both siblings look forward to the work ahead.
“You have to definitely love what you do,” Holden said about nursing. “No amount of money will be enough. You’ve got to love it.”