Shaunda Shaw & Shineil Taylor
Brianna Ebony Simpson
She’s one of the nation’s top nurses. She’s a kidney donor. And she’s a Georgia Perimeter College alumna.
Allison Batson is fearless.
She donated her kidney to save a young man’s life. She has been lauded as a national finalist for the Johnson & Johnson Amazing Nurse honor and has been recognized as one of the top 10 nurses in the state by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She also has been honored as a University System of Georgia Alumna of the Year and Regents’ Hall of Fame Inductee.
Allison Batson, a Georgia Perimeter College alumna, exemplifies the spirit of fearlessness in her perseverance and commitment to a nursing career--coming to GPC not once, but three times.
“Nursing was always in my “dream basket,” Batson says. “Both my parents died pretty young from different illnesses, and I had burning questions about why things were happening and the science behind everything,” she says. She also has a best friend she admires who is a nurse.
Batson didn’t pursue her dream—at first. “I attended DeKalb College (the forerunner of GPC) but was just an average student,” she recalls. Then she left school. “I fell in love and got married, and started my family. My career path was a balance between my dream and raising our children.”
When she was ready to go back to college, it was 2004, and she was the mother of four. Hoping to set a good example for her children, she “studied as hard as she could” to pass her college prerequisites, applied and was accepted into the nursing program.
“GPC was a comfort zone for me, and I chose it for cost-effectiveness. I knew it was a good place for me to start.”
Then life happened again. Her husband lost his job. Batson wanted to stay in the health care area, so she got an entry level job in admissions at Emory University Hospital to help support her family. But she realized she would have to drop out of nursing school to work full time. “I was just six weeks into the nursing program,” she says. “I was devastated.”
Fast forward three years, and Batson was ready once again to return to GPC with the encouragement of her husband and family. Then a patient liaison in Emory’s Midtown Hospital, she reapplied and was accepted into GPC’s nursing program.
“I felt supported all the way through,” she says, noting the encouragement of nursing instructors such as Jeanette Crawford. “I took her study skills class before the program started; she is just wonderful,” she says.
Graduating in 2009, Batson returned to Emory—this time as a full-fledged registered nurse, working on the transplant floor.
It was while there that fate occurred. She met Clay Taber, a 22-year-old in renal failure. “We usually see patients after their transplants,” Batson says. But that day, the renal floor was full, and Taber was transferred to Batson’s floor.
“The key moment was at the nurse’s station, when they said there is a 22-year-old in complete renal failure; I thought, “Oh my God, this could be my child; I could only imagine what that mother was feeling; I had kids between the ages of 16 and 27at that time.”
Batson and Taber's family grew close in the next month. She offered sympathy and a shoulder to cry on for Taber's mother, whose own kidneys were deemed unsuitable for transplant.
Batson realized that her blood type made her a universal donor, and she could be a kidney match for Clay.
“If my family members were not on board, I wasn’t going forward with it,” she says. “But I knew it was the right thing to do. I talked to my husband about it, and my family, and they were supportive.” One year later, after Clay was deemed healthy enough for a transplant, Batson donated her kidney.
In the summer of 2012, she danced with Clay at his wedding. “Helping this young man begin his married life the way he should has been a blessing to me. It has brought me closer to my faith and my family. We feel like we have a new son and daughter-in-law; his family calls our family their “kidney-in-laws.”
Batson’s educational foundation from GPC—and her family’s support—helped her achieve her dreams. “I felt like GPC prepared us well. I’ve heard it over and over again, how employers would pick a GPC-trained nurse for their skills. I definitely would recommend the nursing program to others.”