Editor’s note: This story is part of a series on the 2022 inductees into the Brookfield Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
You might find it hard to believe, considering Dr. Marquita Hubbard Kemp has five college degrees, but she wasn’t always the best student.
“I think I did a lot of playing around in high school when I should have been cracking those books a little harder,” she told a group of Brookfield High School students in September. “Sometimes, I probably hung out with people I shouldn’t have, and made some choices that I probably shouldn’t have made.
“I mean, I’ve recovered absolutely from it, but, sometimes, you make it hard for yourself, just based on some of your choices,” Kemp said.
The 1980 Brookfield High School graduate didn’t find the desire to work hard and make more thoughtful choices until after she had donned a cap and gown for the first time.
“Once I got out of high school, it became very apparent to me that the expectations were that I was (to be) successful as an adult, so I had to figure out where my niche was,” she said.
At least, she knew what she wanted to do – become a nurse, like her mom and her aunts.
“Everywhere I turned, there was a nurse, and I liked that whole concept and, really, to be honest, I think I was attracted to the white hat and the white uniform,” Kemp said.
She started at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, earning degree number one, an associate’s in nursing. Degree number two came from Penn State University, a bachelor’s, also in nursing.
Trained as a critical care nurse, Kemp has sometimes worked outside of hospitals, in clinics and nursing homes, on private duty, as a traveling nurse, a visiting nurse and a mobile and virtual community care nurse.
“You name it, I’ve done it,” she said.
“I love being a nurse,” Kemp said. “Nursing has afforded me a lifestyle that is second to none. I’ve got to travel, I’ve got to do a lot of things.”
Kemp, who lives in the Masury house that her grandparents built, currently works in administration for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which matched her student loan payments for the first five years of employment.
“That was my draw,” Kemp said. “I got two master’s degrees on them.”
Those master’s degrees were from Waynesburg University, in nursing administration and business administration.
“One of the main reasons that I pursued an MBA, it was for me to understand the business model better, so that I could better manage and navigate myself, personally,” Kemp said. “I think we need to take more control of our careers in terms of, we’re in a position where we’re making money and we’re making moves, we need to understand how that money is being utilized and spent and how to structure ourselves to be very financially secure.”
Duquesne University bestowed her doctorate, in nursing. While pursuing her doctorate, she was part of a team that went to Rome to research transcontinental healthcare, and received an audience with the pope.
While Kemp was not the ideal student at Brookfield, she got more out of her time there than her young self realized.
“My educational experience here at Brookfield has made a foundation for me that has allowed me to experience things and travel places and do things that are second to none,” she said.
“Education is the foundation to everything,” Kemp said. “I know it sounds redundant because you’re sitting in a position right now, because you just want to get out of high school and get on with life, you don’t wanna hear what people are saying. I am a firm believer in education. I have, like, five different degrees. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. I love knowledge.”
She loves knowledge because “Knowledge is power,” she said. “You get to control what you learn and how you disseminate the information that you’ve learned. Knowledge is one thing you take with you throughout life that can never be taken from you.”