Meet Parker.

Parker Rohrbaugh
Parker Rohrbaugh
PhD Program, Online

Parker Rohrbaugh, a student in the WVU School of Nursing Ph.D. program, is proof that there are no educational bounds for first-generation college students. He knew he wanted to pursue college to reach his academic potential and establish a foundation for success in his nursing career.

A native of Emmitsburg, Maryland, a small town on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, Rohrbaugh attended Penn State for his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

“I was attracted to the nursing field because I thought it was the perfect intersection of academia, vocation, and service,” Rohrbaugh said. “I was interested in working with children in a career prior to becoming interested in nursing. The prospect of becoming a pediatric nurse was a great way to provide care to children and their families at their most vulnerable moments, and be able to exercise the art and science of caring.”

As a first-generation college student, he said not knowing what resources were available, specifically around studying and note-taking, was one of the biggest challenges he faced.

“It was easy to get lost in a lecture that had nearly as many students as my entire high school,” Rohrbaugh said. “Once I got a grasp of studying and time management, the transition was much smoother.”

After obtaining his BSN, he moved to Morgantown to work in the Pediatric ICU. He then attended the University of Virginia for his Master of Science in Nursing, specializing as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with Acute Care Certification. He now works at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on the Cardiac Acute Care Unit and he recently started his Ph.D. in Nursing at WVU.

“I am pursuing my Ph.D. with the plan to transition my career toward academia and research upon completion,” Rohrbaugh said. “I believe my experience as a nurse and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse will be auspicious for a career as a nurse educator.”

Being married to a two-time WVU School of Nursing alumna and working alongside many WVU alumni at Ruby Memorial led Rohrbaugh to choose WVU for his doctorate degree.

“WVU School of Nursing maintains a standard of excellence in nursing academia,” he said. “My mentor, and current School of Nursing faculty, Dr. Brad Phillips, recruited me to the program. The WVU School of Nursing and PhD program are an exceptional fit to my personal and professional goals.”

For first-generation college students, Rohrbaugh emphasizes the importance of metacognition — the skill of knowing what you don’t know.

“Initially, as a first-year student, I didn’t realize that I didn’t know how to properly take notes and study. This made for a difficult transition from high school,” he said. “I would advise incoming students to identify and utilize their resources early, including academic advisors, office hours, and teaching assistants."  

He said these resources can help identify “what you know” outside of the course material and areas that need improvement.

“Additionally, make sure the course work is your primary priority,” Rohrbaugh said. “Class clubs, extracurricular activities, and football games are for filling free time, not the main event.”

Rohrbaugh and his wife now live in Pittsburgh along with their nearly 2-year-old son. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family at the park and watching college football and wrestling.