Jennifer Pope, ’99, ’12 and ’16Published Tuesday, August 25th, 2020
Dr. Jennifer Pope, first to Receive All Three Degrees From CSU
Dr. Jennifer Pope
Family Nurse Practitioner
Jennifer Pope’s life and career has been defined by titles of prestige — mom, United States Army Commander (retired), professor and now — Doctor. In December 2016, she was awarded a doctor of nurse practitioner degree from CSU College of Health Professions (CHP) Helene Fuld School of Nursing (HFSON), becoming the first alumnae to receive all three degrees – bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate from the university.
Jennifer was inspired to become a nurse after seeing the care her uncle received from a visiting nurse. Additionally, she worked as a unit clerk at Mercy Medical Center. “That sealed the deal for me,” said Jennifer. What inspired her to come to Coppin was affordability and that one of her family members graduated in ’93.
Jennifer recalled, “When I arrived on campus, the School of Nursing was housed in the Grace Jacobs building. We had two classrooms and an adjacent skills lab. The mannequins were few and old.” And, she added, “It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.” Because the faculty and staff in the School of Nursing supported and encouraged her every step of the way.
Jennifer graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s in nursing and joined the Army Nurse Corps. “Earning a BSN allowed me to become a U.S. Army officer.” She returned to Coppin in 2009 for the MSN/FNP program. By then, HFSON had relocated to the new Health and Human Services building, with an entire floor dedicated to nursing. “There were numerous high-fidelity mannequins. One even gave birth. I was so impressed with the simulation center, that as a graduate student I was able to secure a job as a graduate assistant in the lab.” Upon completion, Jennifer’s MSN/FNP degree/certification afforded her the opportunity to be promoted to the rank of Commander (0-5) in the U.S. Public Health Services, and subsequently landed a position with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the world’s largest research facility, the National Institutes of Health.
In the summer of 2015, CHP HFSON launched its Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner (DNP) program, the University’s only doctorate program. Jennifer became a member of its first cohort. Because the format of the program was on the weekends and hybrid, it allowed her to study and to continue working a fulltime job. “I knew the program was going to be rigorous, but I also knew that the resources would be in place to ensure my success.” Admittedly, she added two more incentives, “I also love the DNP’s chairperson, Dr. Joan Tilghman. And there was a Maryland Higher Education scholarship for nurse faculty.”
“Coppin is near and dear to my heart. It transformed my life. I have so much respect for the CHP leadership, women who are confident and intelligent, who give back to grow individuals like me.” Jennifer also gives back to her alma mater. She is a Masters/Family Nurse Practitioner faculty member. “I wanted to help change the lives of persons who came from backgrounds like mine,” she said.