When Dr. Judi Wilson, interim dean for the College of Education, prepares to take the stage during the 2019 Spring Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 10, she will be carrying one extra item this year: a package of tissues.
Her twin sons, Tanner and Carter Wilson, will both be graduating from Augusta University’s College of Nursing as she attempts to hold it together on stage.
“I might be the only dean on stage with regalia, crying. So just be prepared for that,” Judi Wilson said, smiling at her 22-year-old sons. “And then I have to give out more diplomas. So I’m trying to work through the emotions. It’s not a sadness. It’s not a grief. It’s just a season in life that you want to celebrate and I’m celebrating it on stage for everyone to see.”
But Judi Wilson and her husband, former Lady Jaguar women’s basketball head coach Greg Wilson, are overflowing with pride.
“You raise kids to become adults. And you want to launch them well and they have launched well,” she said of her sons. “They are very dependable. They are team players. They care deeply about others. And they are serving in one of those professions — nursing — where they can use those gifts and those talents in a special way.”
Even though both boys grew up in a household of teachers, Tanner and Carter Wilson said they were drawn to nursing because of some medical conditions Carter Wilson experienced as a teenager while playing basketball at Westminster Schools of Augusta.
“We both grew up playing a lot of sports and I would say within the last year and a half of school during my junior and senior year, I broke a strip in my foot with a stress fracture,” Carter Wilson said. “Then, I had heart ablation surgery because I got diagnosed with SVT, which is short for supraventricular tachycardia.”
SVT is a condition where your heart suddenly beats much faster than normal, he said.
“I had a big episode on the basketball court, so I had to have heart surgery,” Carter Wilson said. “Then, a month after recovering from heart surgery, I had a severe concussion.”
During a basketball game, Carter Wilson jumped up to catch a pass and collided with another player. As he fell, he hit the ground hard and suffered whiplash.
“I don’t remember a whole lot after that,” Carter Wilson said. “It was a really bad concussion and it took me a full year to recover.”
As Carter Wilson was recovering, the brothers experienced their first real encounter with twin telepathy.
“We’re always asked, ‘Do you guys have telepathy? Do you know what each other is feeling?’ And we’ve never really believed in that,” Carter Wilson said. “But while I was recovering, we had moments when he was gone to an away game and I was feeling nauseous at home, trying to throw up and he’d start throwing up at that exact same moment. It was pretty crazy. We had that happen multiple times.”
“Fun stuff,” Tanner Wilson jokingly replied.
As Carter Wilson was working to recover from his injuries, the brothers met several professionals in the medical field and those individuals started to pique their interest.
By the time the Wilson brothers were headed off to college, they knew Augusta University offered outstanding programs in the medical field.
And while they always thought they would be following in the family tradition of attending the University of Georgia in Athens, they decided staying at home and attending Augusta University was a smarter option.
“We are very money minded and we wanted to save a lot,” Tanner Wilson said. “Tuition at Augusta University is pretty cheap and with Georgia’s HOPE scholarship, it was a really good price. For us, graduating debt free was a huge plus. And the fact that Augusta has one of the best medical districts around, it was a perfect place for us.”
For the first two years, the twins were taking classes on the Summerville campus, where they would occasionally run into their mother, but their last two years, their courses were on the Health Sciences campus.
“It’s been a fun journey for us,” Judi Wilson said. “They would stop by my office and come in and eat lunch with me sometimes during those first two years. It was fun to reconnect, on their terms, when they wanted to and when they were ready.”
When Judi Wilson’s sons decided to go into nursing, Dr. Lucy Marion, dean of the College of Nursing, reached out to the family and provided them guidance.
“Dean Marion is my mentor and close friend. I just have tremendous respect for her,” Judi Wilson said. “She has provided some really good coaching in that area about opportunities that exist, especially for male nurses because that is a unique minority in their field. So that has been a special part of my journey as a dean to have a colleague that I am able to share my voice with them and learn more about their field as well.”
Fortunately, following graduation, Judi Wilson was pleased to learn her two boys will remain in the Augusta area.
“Tanner is going to the emergency room at Augusta University,” Carter Wilson said. “I’m already working at the VA Hospital in the emergency room, so I’m going to stay there. We like the fast pace.”
“Yep,” Tanner replied. “We are both ER guys.”
Judi Wilson just smiled and said, “They are adrenaline junkies.”
Over the past two decades, Augusta University has earned a special place in the hearts of the Wilson family, Judi Wilson said.
“We actually came here 20 years ago because my husband was the women’s basketball coach here at the university. We didn’t come because of my career. We came because of him,” she said. “The boys grew up here on this campus and I hope to be able to end my career here.
“But for them to be able to graduate here at Augusta University, that’s been a special gift that we did not expect when we first stepped foot on this campus two decades ago.”