This past fall when Midland College (MC) nursing student Jacob Wallace was in the
midst of a clinical rotation in the Oncology Department at Midland Memorial Hospital
(MMH), he began performing the routine head-to-toe assessment on a female patient;
however, that assessment soon turned into a moment that Wallace termed “serendipitous.”
“I could tell that she wanted to talk to someone,” Wallace recalled. “So, instead
of continuing with the assessment, I just sat down and visited with her. I truly
believe that God put me in that moment for a reason. That evening, she passed away.
It is humbling to think that I was one of the last people to talk to her. I’m glad
that I took the time to get to know her a little better.”
That encounter combined with Wallace’s diligent work during his internship at MMH
and his demonstration of compassion garnered him the first student Daisy Award given
by Midland Memorial Hospital.
“I’m 33 years old and always wanted to work in the medical field,” he explained. “It
just took me a while to get here.”
Originally from Brookhaven, MS, Wallace enlisted in the Marines after high school
and spent five years as a military policeman in Quantico, VA, first serving on guard
duty and then as a member of the Special Reactions Team (SRT). When he was honorably
discharged from the Marines, he found himself divorced with two young children, and
he started working in the offshore oil industry. In 2014, Express Energy Services
transferred him to the oilfields of West Texas, which he claims was the best move
of his life.
“I was able to have steady employment, but the best thing happened during a Thanksgiving
dinner when one of my coworkers invited me to his house,” Wallace said. “I met his
daughter Hannah who eventually became my wife!”
Hannah is a post-partum nurse at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa and former graduate
of Midland College’s Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program. Jacob claims that she
was instrumental in convincing him to work toward acceptance into the program.
“Hannah and I were married in 2018 and had our first child, a little girl named Lyla
Nicole in 2020,” Wallace said. “I kept working in the oilfield in order to help support
our growing family, but I was listening very carefully to Hannah who talked about
the great instructors she had at Midland College. I also I did some research and
discovered that Midland College has the best NCLEX [Registered Nurse licensing exam]
rates in the area. In the fall of 2021, when we had saved enough money and were financially
stable, I started taking prerequisite classes toward MC’s Associate Degree Nursing
A year later, he was accepted into the ADN program. Currently, he is in his final
semester and scheduled to graduate this coming May. However, his higher education
journey has had tremendous heartbreak for him. In February 2022, when Wallace was
attending MC taking prerequisite courses, his son from his previous marriage passed
away at the age of 11.
“It was tough,” Wallace said. “I knew deep down inside that I had to keep going,
but some days I really had to force myself to get up and go to class. I suffered
intense feelings of sadness, despair and helplessness. Thankfully, I had Hannah to
help me through the grieving process, and my professors were very understanding. My
English professor Stacy Egan and Anatomy & Physiology professor Amelia Belizaire were
especially compassionate and helped me get through those days.”
Fortunately, with heartbreak also comes joy, and on December 30, 2021, Hannah gave
birth to Kohen James, the couple’s second child.
The family enjoys spending time together. Movie night with Jiffy Pop® popcorn is
a favorite pastime.
“We watch a lot of PAW Patrol movies,” Wallace said laughingly. “I think I watch
my children’s smiling faces more than I watch the movie. It brings back memories
of going to movies with my dad when I was a child.”
Wallace is also close to his oldest daughter MacKenzie Diane, age 12, who lives with
her mother in Mississippi. In addition to being an “all-in” dad and taking a full
class load at Midland College, Wallace interns at both Midland Memorial Hospital and
Medical Center Hospital. He said that he enjoys all aspects of nursing, but his favorite
area is the Emergency Department (ED).
“Working as a nurse intern has given me the advantage to be in various departments,”
he explained. “I try to work 12-hour shifts, so that I can experience the entire
shift cycle with the other staff. I have found that I like the camaraderie in the
ED and the wide variety of patients. I get to see a little bit of everything when
I’m working in the Emergency Department and have found that working as an emergency
nurse intern has helped me gain proficiency and confidence in my skills.
“However, I also believe that nursing is more than just skills. I like to interact
with my patients and build rapport with them. My goal is to give them good medical,
as well as personal care, and to give the best version of myself when I am with them.”
Wallace said that after MC graduation in May and subsequent passing of the NCLEX exam,
he hopes to work at a Permian Basin hospital, and he plans to immediately begin taking
online courses toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing at Texas Tech University
Health Sciences Center. His ultimate goal is to eventually get a doctorate degree