Twenty-four students graduated from Rappahannock Community College’s practical nursing program on August 5.
“There are some great opportunities out there,” said Charles Smith, RCC’s dean of health sciences. He reminded the graduates that the certificate they have just received will not only advance their careers, but will provide a multitude of opportunities for healing and helping—when a former student asked Smith whether he ever looked back at his life and wondered if he had made a bad career choice, Smith’s answer was “Never! After 40 years, I have not one regret.” He expressed the hope that the graduating class would one day be able to say the same, and ended by thanking their families and friends for “the sacrifices you made to allow these folks to become valuable members of the community.”
Students who received pins this year, pledging to devote their lives to “service and the high ideals of the nursing profession,” were Kristen Campbell, Shelby Dyke, Jennie Fryer, and Shelby Gwartney, all of Gloucester County; Shayla Brooks, Hampton; Donna Gibson, Taylor Miller, and Melanie Shaffer, all of King and Queen County; Tauveone Hill, King George County; Andrea Hathaway, Paige Pittman, and Lauren Young, all of Lancaster County; Angela Pittman, Mathews County; Kristin Davis, Brianna Manniso, and Silver Sparks, all of Middlesex County; Lawrence Conley, Talaya Flowers, and Kemiya Middleton, all of Northumberland County; Sara Courtney, Jamie Garcia, and Megan Sanders, all of Richmond County; and Brandi Gossett and Lacey McGilvary, both of West Point. Many of the graduates asked friends or family members who are already nurses to honor them by awarding them their pins.
Three members of the Class of 2016 were invited to play special roles in the program: Angela Pittman led the Pledge of Allegiance, and student speakers Shayla Brooks and Brandi Gossett offered praise and encouragement to their classmates. In addition, all the students were asked before the ceremony to write a few words summarizing how they feel about their achievement. They expressed unanimous thanks for the love and support they received from teachers, clinical supervisors, classmates, family, friends, and significant others. “It has been a long, tough year,” said Shelby Dyke; but, affirmed Talaya Flowers, “We did it!” Perhaps the most representative sentiment was that of Brianna Manniso: “I have always dreamed of becoming a nurse, and today I am one step closer.”
RCC’s three-semester practical nursing program—instructed by Bonnie Cooley, Laura Gares, Leah Hurst, Leslie Lantz, Carrie Lewis, Debra Moore, Susan Perry, Sheila Rice, and Rebecca White—is open to men and women who show evidence of interest, motivation, and aptitude for health care. The program includes lectures, labs, and clinical site rotations, and covers the subjects of sociology, psychology, pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, nutrition and human development, health changes, medical terminology, and drug dosage calculations. Students participate in clinical rotations that include obstetrics and gynecology, mental health, pediatrics, medical-surgical nursing, and long-term care nursing. Upon completion of the program, they are eligible to apply to the Virginia State Board of Nursing to take the licensure exam.
A class of 24 practical nursing students graduated from RCC on August 5. First row, left to right: Silver Sparks, Lauren Young, Angela Pittman, Paige Pittman, and Brianna Manniso. Second row, left to right: Kemiya Middleton, Jennie Fryer, Brandi Gossett, and Shelby Gwartney. Third row, left to right: Melanie Shaffer, Lacey McGilvary, Talaya Flowers, Sara Courtney, and Shayla Brooks. Fourth row, left to right: Megan Sanders, Andrea Hathaway, Tauveone Hill, Lawrence Conley, and Kristen Campbell. Fifth row, left to right: Taylor Miller, Jamie Garcia, Shelby Dyke, and Brooke Davis. Not pictured: Donna Gibson.