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Shirley applies childhood love of nursing to BJU teaching position

Lindsay Shaleen
Shirley prepares for her teaching career with nursing students. Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

Natalie Shirley, a true Southerner and lover of home-cooked Southern meals, started her full-time employment at Bob Jones University this semester. 

Unlike many of the BJU faculty, Shirley did not attend BJU as a student. She found out about the teaching opportunity at BJU through Bob Jones Academy, which all of her children attend. The school nurse, Sue Biddle, introduced Shirley to some of the people who work in the nursing department at BJU.

This semester, Shirley is primarily preparing for the course she will teach starting this spring, Intermediate Medical-Surgical Nursing, a junior-level course. In the meantime, she also helps out with the Fundamentals of Nursing and Beginning Medical-Surgical Nursing classes and does guest lectures in a few BJU nursing classes.

Shirley worked at Prisma Health for 14 years in several positions, including in the ‘float pool,’ where nurses are pulled for various positions around the medical facility.
Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

Shirley was born in Tennessee but moved to South Carolina almost 25 years ago. “I’ve been here so long it almost feels like I’m from here,” she said. Her mom was a nurse, and her dad worked at a nursing home. Shirley said she practically grew up in the nursing home and loved helping take care of the elderly patients there as a child. “That’s probably where my heart remains, I just love that population and taking care of them,” Shirley said. She was able to help out at her father’s nursing home frequently, which she enjoyed. 

“They would let [Shirley and her brother] pass out ice in pitchers, wheel folks around in their wheelchairs and take them to activities. So I was just exposed to  [nursing],” Shirley said. “I was just kind of born in it.”

The earned her associate degree in nursing at Greenville Technical College and her bachelor’s at Walden University. She received her master’s degree from Western Governors University. 

Shirley was an adjunct faculty member back in the fall of 2019 through 2020. Then she took a year off before coming back to BJU as full-time faculty. 

The works in the nursing lab and also takes the students on clinical rotations to the hospital. “It kind of gets them acclimated to being at the hospital,” Shirley said. “They learn to interact with patients, take vital signs and pass medications, that kind of thing. It’s fun to watch them as they learn how to do that interaction with the patients.”

Shirley prepares for her teaching career with nursing students.
Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

Before working at BJU, Shirley worked at Prisma Health for 14 years. “I did acute care setting, nursing, worked in cardiology, and in the float pool, where they can pull you and send you to a whole bunch of areas,” Shirley said. She also worked in management for Prisma Health for a time before she said she felt the Lord calling her to teach. 

Since she was young, Shirley has loved cooking, just like the rest of her family. Her favorite things to cook are traditional Southern dishes. “I’m not much of a baker,” Shirley said. Her family’s favorite dish is cube steak and gravy. 

Her grandmother taught her how to cook everything, especially the “true Southern-type dishes” Shirley said. “It was very ‘beans and cornbread’ and some sort of fried vegetable.”

A couple of Shirley’s favorite things about Greenville are the weather changes and the friendliness of the people here. She lived in Florida for a five-year period and said there are definitely a few differences between the two. “There’s such a friendly atmosphere in Greenville,” Shirley said. “They have that Southern atmosphere that’s lacking in Florida.” 

She and her family keep several pets, five guinea pigs and a little Shih Tzu they got recently. 

Shirley said she really appreciates how the faculty help the students to grow in their walk with the Lord, as well as academically. “That I feel like you don’t have as much at other universities,” Shirley said. “I really love the heart that all the educators here seem to have for their students.” 

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Shirley applies childhood love of nursing to BJU teaching position