Your Neighbor: Meet Christina Anderson

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 29, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

Growing up in a close-knit family, Christina Anderson was surrounded by parents that valued time together and helping others. If Anderson wasn’t enjoying being out on the water in Jacksonville, Florida, with her two younger brothers, she could be found at her father’s office.

“We had established roots in Florida when I was in 2nd grade,” Anderson said. “Prior to that, my father, who was in the United States Air Force, decided to retire and work in Jacksonville as a cardiologist. I really enjoyed helping him after school and on the weekends at his office. My mom worked as a physical therapist, so I developed a real love and appreciation for medicine and wanting to help others early on.”

Because of her fondness for medicine and seeing the dedication her parents had to their patients, Anderson strongly considered going into medicine herself.

“My dad’s partner had really encouraged me to look at schools in North Carolina and South Carolina,” Anderson said. “After several college tours in both states, I found Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, to be a great fit.”

Determined to go pre-medicine, Anderson met with her advisor who was anything but encouraging.

“A friend of mine also met with him, and he treated her with the same level of encouragement,” Anderson said. “After having such a disappointing meeting, and also having discussions with my dad about the schooling duration and challenging schedules with raising a family, I decided to go a different direction. I knew I still wanted to help people, especially children, so I chose to go into education. This was before nurse practitioners and physician assistants became so prevalent.” 

During her time at Furman, Anderson met her future husband, Dave.

“We had mutual friends and started dating my senior year,” Anderson said. “He was interested in medicine too, and we found that we had a lot of life goals and interests in common. It was interesting too because his roommate and mine also ended up dating and eventually got married.”

Throughout college, Anderson continued to help her dad in his office when she was home for the summer and on breaks.

“My dad knew that I still wanted to do medicine in some capacity and called me one day to tell me about a program called ‘Child Life,’” Anderson said. “He had been asked to write a recommendation for a neighbor and had to do a bit more research on what that was. While doing research he found out that it is an opportunity to provide education to patients with any kind of extreme diagnosis in the hospital setting. He thought that would be perfect for me. I was excited at the prospect of it and decided to get my Master of Arts in Child and Family Development at Florida State University after graduating from Furman.” 

After graduating, Anderson was excited to work as a health care professional to help children and families navigate the process of illness, injury, disability, trauma and hospitalization.

“Working as a resource to provide additional support with their health care team was exactly what I was looking for,” Anderson said. “Especially during those stressful situations, it was meaningful to be able to support the children and their families.”

Anderson headed to Vanderbilt’s Children Hospital initially for her fellowship.

“During that time, I rotated throughout the specialties,” Anderson said. “I found that I really felt pulled towards the pediatric hematology and oncology program. I knew that would take me to the Atlanta area if I really wanted to specialize in it at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hospital.”

Anderson stayed in Atlanta for 4 years working in the Child Life program for the hospital. When she and Dave got engaged, they moved to the Winston-Salem area where he had matched for his residency program.

“Initially, I had thought about commuting to Atlanta, but I realized that would have been tough,” Anderson said. “Child Life wasn’t a big program here yet, so it was challenging to find something similar.”

However, determined to find a way to help in the medical community, divine intervention found Anderson working for a cardiologist at then Wake Forest University Baptist Health.

“I had helped my dad with a blood pressure study, and an opening to help patients with Medicaid understand resources for preventative care with asthma and diabetes became available,” Anderson said. “At the same time, I was able to work with all the residents too. I did that for about 3 ½ years before we had our first child, Will (18). At that point, with the cost of childcare, and knowing we wanted to have more children, I decided to stay home full time with the kids. John (15) was born 3 years later, and then our youngest, Ellie (12).”

Now with a high school senior finishing up his last year at home, Anderson is reminded at how fast time flies with moments with your children.

“I can’t believe it, but we are starting to experience all of these ‘last’ moments and it seems surreal,” Anderson said. “I feel fortunate I’ve been able to volunteer with their sports teams as a team parent, various Parent Teacher Associations, their preschools clothing sales, and currently I’m in the guidance office at Mt. Tabor High School. All of these stages there has been something memorable and fun that I will always cherish. Volunteering in the schools has given me a better perspective and a lot of grace, too.” 

Anderson hopes to pass along the same values of helping others that was instilled in her as a child.

“We stay very involved at First Presbyterian,” Anderson said. “I became a deacon 4 years ago. I also help lead our women’s Bible study. It has been a great place for our family to belong. It does take a village to raise a family. And with Dave and I having our extended family outside of North Carolina, we are especially grateful for ours.”