Melody Sumter is a woman pursuing excellence. In her new role as a nursing instructor at Queens, Sumter is committed to leading the next generation into a career of personal connection and service.
“My passion to impact people’s lives is what drives me to balance so many different things,’’ Sumter says. “I feel a strong responsibility to give of myself and serve others as often and as much as I can.”
Described by her twin sister, Marilyn, as an overachiever, Sumter has proven this true with her constant passion and her ability to navigate transitions.
She follows her interests with abandon, whether it is her Whitney Houston fandom, her turn as high school president and cheerleading captain, her tight-knit family and two children, her nursing practice, and now her teaching that she is pursuing alongside a doctoral degree.
A Queens graduate (she earned her MSN in 2008), Sumter has taken the school’s motto “Not to be served, but to serve” to heart.
As the first generation of her family to pursue a career in healthcare – though surrounded by educators that led to her interest.
Sumter’s favorite part of nursing has been the hands-on work with patients. She was recognized for her passion and service in 2017 with the Daisy Award, a national, patient-nominated award for nurses.
“Melody was able to pick up on the tension in my room,’’ wrote one of Sumter’s patients as part of her nomination for the award.
“In her own quiet, caring way, she calmed the situation. She took the time to go above and beyond what was required. Very few special people have the ability to touch the lives of others without prying, to make others know you care about them and want to help them. I believe Ms. Sumter loves people, enjoys her job, and doesn’t hesitate to walk the extra step or go the extra mile.”
Sumter recognizes the significance of such patient interactions, saying that nomination – which she describes as one of her career highlights – brought her to tears.
“You never know how impactful you can be,” says Sumter.
And while she decided to transition from patient care to teaching, her passion always lies in personal connection.
Sumter says she previously felt rewarded by seeing patients make progress and recover. Now, she enjoys keeping up with students and maintaining that connection, even years after teaching them.
One of her current students describes Sumter’s teaching style as different from the traditional lecture style, saying that she maintains a focus on class interaction and discussion, leaving time for questions and encouraging student feedback.
Education has been a cornerstone for Sumter. And she hopes to encourage others to see it as one as well. “I would hope that students when they enter college, would start to think about coming back and being educators,’’ she says.
“There’s always a generation behind you that could really benefit from your experiences and your knowledge and your skills.”