Community academy helps mom, daughter find purpose

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | May 22, 2012

When she was a little girl, Marnie Thrasher's grandfather was a dairy farmer. In that line of work you get all kinds of cuts and scrapes.

When these happened, Marnie would grab Q-tips and Band-Aids and doctor grandpa up. It was cute, but it was more than that, too. You could see it.

picture disc.
Marnie Thrasher's experience in the UNMC community academy helped her find her calling as a PA. It also helped Thrasher's mother find a niche, too.
Her mom and grandmother got her one of those toy doctor kits.

A perfect fit

Fast forward. Marnie was in the seventh grade. A family friend said her daughter was in a program called the UNMC Community Academy. Marnie's mom thought it sounded perfect for her daughter, too.

The first day was a full day, a long day, the first day of a three-week stretch.

Marnie's mom, Sherry, expected to find Marnie exhausted, when she picked her up. Instead, she picked up one invigorated young girl. All summer, it was like that.

"She couldn't wait to get up in the morning," Sherry said. "And she likes to sleep."

Like school, but better

Every day was different. One day they were at the College of Dentistry, they got to make molds of their thumbs, mess around with mannequins. Another day they were at a hospital. Another day, they learned to use blood-pressure cuffs. Marnie came alive.

"It really brought her out," Sherry said. "Marnie was pretty quiet."

Now she had something to talk about.

A place for Mom, too

Marnie was in the community academy for six years. When it ended, Lisa Jewell-Hardesty, director of the UNMC Youth Learning Center, was saying goodbye and that she would miss them. And then Sherry said, "You know what ...?"

As Marnie went off to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Sherry stayed on, as a UNMC Community Academy mom. (Officially, a "parent guide.")

"I don't think she was as involved with it when I was actually in it," Marnie said.

Meanwhile, Marnie went on to graduate from UNL and enrolled in the School of Allied Health Professions at UNMC. Jewell-Hardesty wrote her letter of recommendation. In mid-December, Marnie graduates as a physician assistant (PA).

In full bloom

Not long ago, Marnie came back to the UNMC Community Academy to give a presentation on being a PA. She got the kids involved, and made it fun, and answered questions.

It was cute, but it was more than that, too. You could see it.

She'd found what she'd always been meant to do.

For more information on the Academy, contact Lisa Jewell-Hardesty at 559-6357.

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Michael Huckabee
May 31, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Marnie, what a great story. And thanks for giving back. - Michael Huckabee, PhD, PA-C

Michaela Bolamperti
May 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Marnie, great article. It's been exciting watching you these last several years meet your career goals. Congratulations, Michaela Bolamperti