Dutchess BOCES’ Career and Technical Institute graduated 31 students from the School of Practical Nursing program during a virtual ceremony held Tuesday, December 15.
During the ceremony, Zoom participants were treated to a slideshow featuring students learning in the classroom and virtually, along with shots of the group and individual students in uniform and holding their diplomas.
Dr. Susan Moraca, who retired this year from her role as Coordinator of Health Operations, was invited back to be the “Very Special Guest Speaker.” Moraca thanked the students for wanting to become nurses and credited their ability to overcome any hurdle thrown at them due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Through it all you persevered because your desire to become a nurse grew stronger,” Moraca said. “I see each of you ready to join the front lines as we face this health care crisis as a nation.”
Moraca, referencing a quote by Maya Angelou, encouraged students to be the nurse they would want to take care of them if they were a patient.
“Life is filled with unexpected adventures as you continue to move on in life and face new events,” Moraca said. “Every day as a nurse you will touch a life and lives will touch you.”
Savara Green, Student Representative for the Class of 2020, is proud to have completed the course with her hardworking and dedicated classmates who endured many challenges and supported each other throughout. Green wished for her classmates to have fulfilling nursing careers.
“Our journey hasn’t been an easy one as evidenced by this pandemic,” Green said. “Nurses, bask in this moment and know that the opportunities are endless from this moment on.”
Joanne Williams, Coordinator of Health Operations, asked Health Occupations Instructors Rosanne Marrone and Christine MacNeil to read the Florence Nightingale Pledge, a highlight of every graduation ceremony. Students, in full white nursing uniforms, lit their candles across Zoom.
“It is with this pledge that each of our students will make that transition from student to practical nurse,” Williams said.
Williams is proud of her students and credited their ability to adapt to numerous changes and overcome challenges.
“They were part of uncharted territory – between going online, getting them through clinical, COVID testing,” Williams said. “There were so many obstacles and they met the challenge.”
Being in school, the nurses have learned what resources are available and know what to expect on the job, Williams said.
“They have a strong foundation and that’s an important thing,” she said. “Part of nursing is nursing the whole person – mind, body, soul.”
The program has proved popular this year and over 300 people have inquired about new sessions, Williams said. The next available classes will start in September 2021.
“We’re not taking any students in January,” Williams said. “It’s overwhelming the amount of people who reached out to us.”
Williams gives a special thank you to Wingate at Ulster in Highland and The Pines at Poughkeepsie for their assistance in getting students across the finish line. They welcomed students for the clinical portion of their studies.
“Without their support, the nurses would not have be able to graduate,” she said.