CLAAS' Recognition Ceremony Announces Keynote Speaker Jackie Phillips

Written by Jade Smallwood, Student Writer for Office of Communications

Headshot of Jackie Phillips.For anyone who has had any level of interaction with Jackie, they can attest to her infectious smile and her desire to make others feel important. We all know Jackie Phillips as the City of Middletown Health Commissioner--we see her name on anything from vending machine certifications, school cafeteria inspection sheets, and community-related health projects--but she is also a 2004 Miami Regionals BSN graduate with a truly inspiring story.

When Jackie graduated from Middletown High School in 1978, she never thought that pursuing a college degree would be a part of her future. Beginning her studies  at a community college, she eventually dropped out in order to start a full-time job at a dental office in Oakwood. Phillips said that she didn’t have a desire to go back to school until her divorce made her realize the difficulties of providing for her daughter as a single parent without a career. After researching programs, she decided to attend the Kettering College evening RN program, which allowed her to use her healthcare experience and maintain her full-time job at the dentist office.  As you can imagine, this was a lot with a three year old at the time. “My sister was the substitute mom, taking my daughter to different appointments--anywhere she needed to be--while my parents watched her frequently, ”Phillips remembered, adding “and I could not be more grateful for that.”

Following graduation, Jackie received a promotion at the dental office, giving her the salary of a starting nurse. Phillips’ sister, tired of Jackie’s 45-minute commute, encouraged her to apply to an open position with the city of Middletown: a nurse with a focus in teaching Heart Health for African Americans. She knew it would be the perfect fit given Jackie’s recent training as a nurse. Jackie was introduced to the Health Commissioner at the time and was hired for the Heart Health teaching position. She then became a Vital Stat Registrar, a permanent staff position. Within just a few weeks of beginning her position as Vital Stat Registrar, Jackie was offered the opportunity to become Nursing Director for the City of Middletown following the resignation of the previous Nursing Director. However, there was a catch, she would need to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Interested in advancing her career, Jackie determined to make Miami Regionals her pathway to obtaining her BSN. Attending Miami Regionals opened up the opportunity to earn her bachelor's degree in a way that was both convenient and accessible as a Middletown resident. According to Phillips, “The program, with it’s exceptional staff,  felt tailor-made for me. I never felt like the staff, my professors or my friends would ever let me fail, and it helped me to develop relationships with people from the whole Butler county area”.

When asking Phillips some of her favorite memories at the Regionals, her response was immediate. She fondly remembered Thesken Hall having spent so much time there, adding “I bet all Nursing students can relate to that!” She also said that the diversity in the classroom at the Regionals, from age, to race, to background, was wonderful.

After graduating with her BSN, Phillips went on to become the Nursing Director for the City of Middletown. While in the position, the Middletown Health Commissioner at that time encouraged  her to continue her education and pursue a master’s degree. He explained that he was not going to be in the position forever, and he saw her as the perfect fit to follow in his footsteps. Jackie took his advice and went on to pursue and obtain a Master of Public Health from the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University.

In addition to her educational accomplishments, Phillips is also very involved in the community,  serving on the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities, YMCA Trustee Board, Sun Coke Advisory Committee, Middletown Arts Center Board, Middletown Arts Festival, Center Pointe Health Center and Butler County Family Children First Council.

Phillips’ story is an encouragement to everyone wondering if they can finish school or wondering if they should even pursue a degree in the first place. Her advice to us as current and future students is this, “There are people surrounding you that want you to succeed, that are there for you to succeed. If I knew that safety net was there, I would not have been so afraid to take that first step. Most people don’t go back to school because they’re fearful they won’t finish, but if I knew it was going to be so fun and so resourceful I would have done it sooner”.