Published on March 22, 2013 by Dr. Kristie Chandler  

Jessie Gordon has a heart for hurting people. After graduating from Samford in ‘09 with a degree in family studies and obtaining her master’s degree from Peabody College, Vanderbilt University two years later, she began work as a child life specialist at Hands of Hope, a pediatric division of Hospice Care of South Carolina. In this role, Gordon journeys with families as they learn to cope with a child’s life-threatening condition.

Gordon supports young patients and families by providing opportunities for engaging activities and conversations that generate healthy expression of thoughts and feelings. She also works directly with patients to encourage active participation in care decision making and provides opportunities for legacy-building and memory-making with the entire family.

Additionally, she supports families as they often times must work through the bereavement process. “Within our team, we often remind ourselves that we are walking on ‘sacred ground’ with the families we serve,” Gordon said. “We recognize that while we cannot change the final outcome for these families, we can impact what the journey looks like.” 

She said she is humbled to have the opportunity to be welcomed into a home and be able to support families during some of their most trying times. And although her job is challenging and demanding, she said she feels rewarded and inspired when she can facilitate simple, bonding moments between patients and family members.

As Gordon works with families, she recalls lessons learned as a Samford student. She said she was given coursework that challenged and enlightened her, and it provided a solid foundation in human development and family systems that continue to be fundamental in her daily work. As a student, she received continual opportunities to engage in practical learning experiences outside the classroom and was exposed to various professionals in her field. She also praises her professors who mentored and supported her, saying they were essential to helping her take her passions and professional aspirations and transforming them into real-life opportunities.

“Through involvement with my sorority, service learning groups and other on-campus organizations and activities, I was able to strengthen my leadership skills and develop a heart for community involvement and service,” Gordon said.

Hospice Care of South Carolina recently won a small business of the year award from the Spartanburg area Chamber of Commerce. Watch a video featuring Hands of Hope and Jessie Gordon.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.