Newborn babies have a way of bringing genuine smiles to one’s face, warmth to one’s heart unlike anything they have ever experienced before and unconditional love that could move mountains. Bridgett Oliver relayed those feelings as a young girl and pursued her passion of bringing them into the world by studying to be a labor and delivery nurse.
Sadly, an automobile accident took her life in March 2017. Just 21 years old, she was a senior honors nursing major at Radford University at the time. Hundreds of people that Bridgett touched with her kindness shared their love for her that made a profound impact on her parents, sister and brother.
Bridgett’s mother, Teresa Oliver, wrote; “Bridgett Jacqueline Oliver, in her brief 21 years, September 7, 1995 – March 31, 2017, was a daughter, sister, youth cheerleading coach, friend and tutor. She was employed as a waitress, CNA in both a nursing home and a hospital and as a substitute school nurse in the very high school she graduated from in 2013. Bridgett helped tutor fellow students and was a beloved Craig County High School graduate, a proud Rocket Radford University Honors Student and a proud Highlander. In fact, in her first college thesis paper, Bridgett wrote about how her family and community formed her into the dedicated person she was.”
Oliver shared that when her daughter Bridgett became an honors nursing student at Radford, her passions found solid footing and she reached out to fellow students to help tutor them in classes.
“As a nursing student intern, she felt was passionate about the labor and delivery department and even had accepted a position at Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Labor and Delivery but was never able to fulfill this dream as she was called home to be with the Lord just three weeks before graduating with a Radford degree,” Bridgett’s father, B.J. Oliver, said.
Bridgett’s parents decided not to let their daughter’s zeal for life die. They chose to let her legacy of love for newborn babies and new moms live through a new scholarship program. “Bridgett’s passion, even as a small child, was to become a nurse and specifically a labor and delivery nurse,” Teresa said. “In this capacity, she hoped to help mothers form bonds with their newborns, as well as to help coach mothers through the process of giving birth.”
The Oliver’s joined with Radford University to honor their daughter and support students in the School of Nursing (SON) community. Bridgett loved helping others and working with infants. Even as a teenager, she volunteered in her community’s local childcare center in the infant room where her passion grew.
Radford University Foundation, Inc. was given an agreement, which provided donated funds for the Bridgett J. Oliver Memorial Scholarship to help students enroll in the Waldron College of Health and Human Services. Over 100 people joined the Oliver family to provide a solid base for the scholarship fund.
“As a nursing intern Bridgett was able to achieve this goal just once,” her parents said. “Through this scholarship program, Bridgett’s legacy can live on through others.”
They added, “This scholarship is looking for a student that will carry out Bridgett’s dreams, a student that wants to give back to fellow nursing students and one’s whose passion is to work in labor and delivery.”
Their desire for the perfect applicant is said to be someone who will be passionate about helping others, volunteering with youth programs and not afraid of working hard to achieve his or her goals.
One scholarship of $1,000 will be given annually at both the high school level and at Radford University to honor Bridgett and allow her legacy to help future labor and delivery nursing students.
This year the Bridgett J. Oliver Memorial Scholarship gave its first scholarship in the amount of $1,000. Recipient Isabel Botha, who graduated in May, accepted a position as a labor and delivery nurse in Northern Virginia, precisely what Bridgett had studied.
“She also happens to be a student that Bridgett used to tutor in anatomy in the nursing program at Radford,” Teresa said. Botha and many of her friends said that Bridgett was always encouraging, was quick to help with needed information and made time for anyone that asked.
Botha also shared with many that when she was given the opportunity to shadow a neo-natal practitioner, she found her passion and love. She now expresses her continued appreciation to the Oliver family and scholarship program, saying, “I will honor her and her memory in the specialty for which we share a passion.”
Don Bowman stated in the Radford University Magazine that the School of Nursing Director Tony Ramsey reflected on the power of philanthropy inspired by Oliver’s tragic death. “The School of Nursing community, the nursing community and the Radford family, have made a powerful statement of support for young people like Bridgett who are inspired to make an impact in a career of service to others,” he said.
“Bridgett’s love of nursing, specifically labor and delivery, will carry on through these young people and their future nursing careers,” Oliver said. “Through this scholarship and the recipient’s dedication, Bridgett J. Oliver’s legacy will make her parents, sisters, brother, friends, fellow Rockets and fellow Highlanders proud.”