MSMS Connects recently caught up with alumna Jessica Coker, who graduated from MSMS in 2010.

Why did you choose MSMS? 

I chose MSMS because I was excited to embrace an opportunity that provided a greater educational platform than my current high school at the time. I was really intrigued with the approach MSMS had toward academia with a focus on math and science. MSMS provided additional resources to students and took a more in-depth approach to foster future career development in areas of math and science.  

How would you describe your time at MSMS? 

My time at MSMS are two years that I will never forget! MSMS was challenging, but provided the structure and resources needed to succeed. The teachers were dedicated to their students, and the students bonded together as a family. MSMS introduced me to students with different cultural backgrounds and academic interests, which helped me grow socially and personally. I learned so much about myself and others while at MSMS, which played an integral role in my development into a college student and then into my career.  

Do you think MSMS helped prepare you for your future academic endeavors? If so, how? 

MSMS created a foundation for academic excellence and resources to grasp a better understanding of math and science. MSMS provided me with the structure needed to thrive as a student and the discipline needed to grow in my career.  

After attending MSMS, what universities did you attend? 

University of Mississippi, Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science Degree (2016) 

Mercer University, Bachelor of Nursing Science Degree (2016) 

Augusta University, Doctor of Nursing Practice for Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (2020)  

What inspired you to  pursue  nursing

Mental health is often considered a taboo topic in the African American community, creating unhealthy cycles of untreated mental health issues that has left the African American community scarred for generations. Many African Americans fear the treatment of mental health due to its stigma and the history of medication maltreatment towards African Americans from the government and medical providers. As a result, many African Americans suffer mental health issues in silence. It was important for me to pursue becoming a mental health provider so that I can provide knowledge, education, and offer treatment to patients that have mental health issues within the African American community. 

How do you plan to use your degree?  

I plan to treat patients with mental health illnesses and substance use disorders in both outpatient and inpatient treatment facilities. I also plan to continue being a mental health advocate within the African American community so that knowledge, resources, and treatment can be provided when needed. 

What is your official job title? Can you tell me a little bit about your responsibilities in this position?  

I am currently working as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at a clinic in Atlanta, GA. I am responsible for assessing, diagnosing, and treating psychiatric illnesses such as mood disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse disorders, anxiety and depression. Additionally, I provide therapy and medication management to patients with mental health needs. 

Would you recommend attending MSMS?

I would definitely recommend attending MSMS! MSMS helped mold me into a better student and provided a path to a rewarding career. I had access to resources inside and outside of the classroom that I did not have at my former high school. I also developed friendships at MSMS that will likely last a lifetime.