Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

Ten ADN graduates pinned

Ten women pinned with SMC ADN degrees

Ten women received their associate degree in nursing (ADN) pins Dec. 13 in the theatre of the Dale A. Lyons Building on Southwestern Michigan College’s Dowagiac campus.

Stefanie Brenner was pinned by the nurse who was a “huge inspiration” caring for her brother during his 11-month battle with bone cancer.

“It was a long, difficult journey, but we persevered together. Congratulations to each and every one of you on this amazing accomplishment. We did it,” Brenner said to classmates Ginny Caudle, Jasmine Cloud, Amanda Huff, Andrea Pisco, Courtney Reed, Marble Simbi-Mujeye, Nikki Skudlarek, Katrina Vargas and Alexandria Vorva.

“We never traveled this new path alone,” Caudle, a mother of four, said. “Our friends and families were right there with us. We dragged them along for the ride that at times was bumpy and hard. Today is a day of joyfulness, to be able to celebrate the fruits of our labor with those who were with us. My husband had to work even harder so I could focus on my studies. Our wonderful instructors poured out their knowledge and wisdom to make us better nurses. My fellow students lifted me up when I was down. Their willingness to make sacrifices for each other was awesome. You are all like family and I will miss you.”

Huff said, “I began this journey with a huge leap of faith and decided if God brought me to it, He would surely bring me through it. Nursing school has been a time of great growth, not only intellectually, but spiritually. I had to rely on God more than ever before and instructors who encouraged me when I doubted myself.”

“Today has finally come. There has been a lot of hard work, willpower, strength of mind and character, resilience and courage and it all paid off. We did it,” said Pisco, thanking a “supporting cast” of her husband and two children, her “pillars of strength who kept me standing. Let the next journey life has for us begin.”

Reed said, “Everyone sacrificed their free time so I could go to school and study,” from her husband to her parents and in-laws. “I’m sure they’re happy they don’t have to watch my (four) kids all the time anymore.”

Simbi-Mujeye, pinned by her husband, an SMC nursing graduate, said, “We have laughed and cried and been upset, but through it all, we became stronger and grew closer. Time will not take away the knowledge Dean Jellison and the faculty shared. You’re great role models. Let’s strive to make a positive difference in the lives of those we meet.”

“Nursing is the most trusted of any profession,” said Rebecca Jellison, dean of the SMC School of Nursing and Health Services. “At times, it’s likened to earth angels. Any of us who have needed health care agree with that statement. I am certain you remember a nurse who touched your heart. I want you to be one of those nurses.

“You are closing one chapter in your lives and will open another very soon. Always seek knowledge and truth. Be honest. You are all lifelong learners. Please seek that in new knowledge each day as you practice your vocation as a nurse. I have been a nurse for 35 years and am still learning new nursing knowledge each day. Be open to education. I also recommend becoming involved in a nursing organization to keep you up to date on issues and as an excellent way to network with your colleagues. Be active.”

“You now belong to the nursing profession,” Jellison said. “Focus on the care of individuals, families and communities so they attain and maintain or recover optimal health and quality of life. Find your passion in nursing and practice it wisely.”

Southwestern Michigan College ADN graduates pinned Dec. 13 include, standing from left: Amanda Huff, Middlebury, Ind.; Courtney Reed, Niles; Marble Simbi-Mujeye, South Bend, Ind., Alex Vorva, Kalamazoo; Katrina Vargas, Elkhart, Ind.; and Andrea Pisco, Three Rivers. Seated, from left: Stefanie Brenner, Eau Claire; Ginny Caudle, South Bend, Ind.; Jasmine Cloud, Kalamazoo; and Nikki Skudlarek, Niles. Not pictured: Barbara Payne, Paw Paw.