Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

SMC nursing program graduates 26

Nursing would not seem to have much in common with skydiving.

But as Southwestern Michigan College President Dr. David M. Mathews explained at the May 3 reception for 26 graduates of SMC’s School of Nursing and Health Services, both are the “real deal,” where a mistake can be fatal to others whose lives hang in the balance.

“I might try to convince you how positive and life-changing skydiving can be. I might be right or I might be wrong, but there’s no question it’s serious stuff,” said Mathews, a former U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret who recently returned to parachuting after 27 years and made 22 jumps in six weeks.

“This is the real deal. Same with nursing when you think about the responsibility. It can be daunting, but we know they have been watched from a close distance. They have a license to learn and to responsibly practice, grow and get safer every day.

“Yes, you are culminating one phase of your training, but it is really the beginning of lifelong learning. We can’t wait until that learning is done to get into the game. Each graduate prepared themselves and we are confident they are ready on their own. We also know that because of their training, they will take upon themselves responsibility to continue to learn. Thank you for trusting your children, wives, girlfriends, family members and friends with us. We take that responsibility seriously and are so proud,” Mathews said.

“Our incredibly dedicated faculty put a lot of sweat and tears into working with our students,” Dr. David Fleming, vice president of instruction, said. “It’s been a long path for most students up here and difficult at times. Be proud in your persistence, perseverance and perspiration. As the old cliché goes, if it was easy, anyone could do it. My faculty are proud of you also. Move forward in your careers to better human lives, to better the nursing profession and to a better society. That’s all we ever ask of our graduates, no matter what program. Go out and make us proud.”

“A few words of advice,” Dean Rebecca Jellison said. “Be authentic. Be honest. Practice loving kindness. Cultivate your own spirituality. You’ll need it. Develop helping and trusting caring relationships with those around you. You will experience both positive and negative feelings as a nurse. It’s okay. Continue to learn, then teach. Finally, remember to take care of yourself because you’re important. Sometimes as nurses we forget that. Nursing is one of the most trusted professions. Never belie that preciousness. I challenge you to be that kind of nurse.”

Following the 47th Commencement, SMC nursing graduates were awarded pins in the theatre of the Dale A. Lyons Building, marking their entry into the profession.

Associate degrees
In nursing

Kayleigh Babinski, Caledonia
Julie Barnett, Niles
David Blank, Niles
Michelle Brooks, Lawton
Hollis Claire, Edwardsburg
Gabrielle Dorman, Dowagiac
Jenna Dowling, Niles
Robert Helms, Granger
Rachel Johnson, Paw Paw
Melissa Lambright, Elkhart
Joelene Little, Niles
Caitlin McCormack, North Branch
Wendy Mulder, Vandalia
Carol Ross, Paw Paw
Ashley Solloway, Cassopolis
Justin Squier, Dowagiac
Troy Treat, Edwardsburg
Amy York, Galien

Licensed practical
nurse graduates

Delaina Croom, Niles
Cody Dorman, Dowagiac
Anna Kellogg, Hartford
Amy Mann, Buchanan
Christopher Mitchell, Cassopolis
Cynthia Pressnall, Dowagiac
Julianne Searles, Berrien Center
DeLynda Virgil, Niles