New career, same commitment
KSU nursing student devoted to family and community
KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 27, 2017) — To Chris Hewitt, nothing means more than family.
Last week, Hewitt took a well-deserved vacation from work and school. He enjoyed Thanksgiving with his family — which includes his wife Cassie, son Caden, 11, and nephews James, 18, and Eli, 7, whom he and Cassie adopted after Cassie’s sister died of cancer in 2012.
The time off was a rarity for him. Hewitt, 39, is working at least 40 hours a week as a police officer while carrying a full class load toward earning a nursing degree from Kennesaw State’s WellStar College of Health and Human Services.
“Trust me, it’s stressful. In the end, I’m hoping it will allow me to spend more time with my family,” Hewitt said. “I’ve had to miss a lot of the kids’ football and baseball games, but I have one more year to go to graduate. Accepting the challenges up front will allow me to gain the rewards later.”
Becoming a nurse won’t be the first foray into the medical field for Hewitt, who began his career as an emergency medical technician and an emergency room technician. He then fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a police officer, his profession for the past 15 years.
Looking to make a career change but still serve the community, Hewitt saw nursing as an ideal fit. He also was inspired by his mother-in-law and a sister-in-law, who are nurses.
“It sounds really cliché, but I just enjoy helping people,” Hewitt said. “That is enjoyable to me, plain and simple, and I like the medical aspect of it.”
Hewitt chose to attend Kennesaw State because of the University’s proximity to his home in Acworth and the strong reputation of the WellStar School of Nursing. He has made an impression on clinical assistant professor of nursing Linda Sutton, who has taught Hewitt in class and in his first nursing clinical and been his advisor in the Student Nurses Association.
“Chris is a student who always goes the extra mile, and he is kind and compassionate to those around him in doing so,” Sutton said. “I have no doubt that working hard while also treating others with respect is the key to success, and Chris certainly exemplifies that. Chris is a dedicated and sincere student with a very bright future ahead of him.”
Hewitt acknowledges that being a police officer brings an adrenaline rush, and he plans to be in the midst of the action as a nurse as well. He aspires to work in an emergency room, intensive care unit or operating room as an acute care nurse.
Along with never knowing what he will encounter from one shift to another as a police officer, Hewitt’s family life took an unexpected turn five years ago when his sister-in-law Jill Jenkins died suddenly of cancer. Though Chris and Cassie Hewitt had planned for Caden to be their only child, they adopted James and Eli, who were ages 13 and 1 at the time.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s been a challenge,” Hewitt said. “But where else would the kids end up? It’s just a matter of stepping up to the plate and accepting the responsibility.”
As Hewitt manages his family responsibilities with his full-time police work and full-time nursing studies, he gives the credit to his wife of 13 years. He said that Cassie works a part-time job while also handling many of the day-to-day duties at home.
“She pushes me to do my best and listens to all my complaints about school and work,” Hewitt said. “Cassie deals with a lot on the home front while I am going through this process. She definitely has been my cornerstone through all of this.”
However, Hewitt doesn’t think of his family as being different from others. He shrugs off the notion that having a rare week off from his non-traditional college life made the Thanksgiving break more meaningful to him than other KSU students.
“It is what it is. You get up and drive on,” he said. “We always thank God that we were able to help these kids.”
– Paul Floeckher
Photos by David Caselli
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.