Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

28 graduates pinned at nursing ceremony

12/20/2016 - 11am
SMC Nursing's fall 2016 class

Southwestern Michigan College Vice President of Instruction Dr. David Fleming addressed 28 men and women awarded associate degree in nursing (ADN) pins Dec. 16 in the theatre of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus.

To keep remarks brief in light of winter-weather advisories, Fleming drew on his English literature background for two limericks:

For every Kaplan exam you did curse,
Every prayer that it couldn’t get worse.
Say goodbye to the tears,
And those irrational fears
For today you’re finally a nurse.

Your career now has no ceiling
And that’s an amazing feeling.
Nurse is not just a role
But an act to extol
In a world that needs lots of healing.

“You’ve been trained to help patients not only with physical pain, but emotional pain, psychological pain and what I would call social pain in a world where we’re feeling way too much pain,” Fleming said. “Don’t ever take that lightly. Your role in helping our communities be better is incredibly important. The only way we’re going to make the world a better place is when we start making our communities better places. The only way to make our communities better places is by starting to make our own professional, personal and social spaces better places.”

“Nursing school is a tumultuous experience of highs and lows,” said Melissa Lambert, student nursing association secretary from Kalamazoo. “We experienced late-night study sessions, countless headaches, flash cards and future promises to friends and family that one day we will return to their lives.”

“The best things in life don’t come easy,” Taryn Thurston of South Bend said. “They come from being driven. Nursing school requires drive, determination and focus. It requires making yourself a priority to succeed in the end. It is endless amounts of caffeine, little sleep, tears, laughter and self-doubt that eventually turns into confidence. It is life-changing.

“It’s about learning who you are and where you want to go in life. Nursing is the most rewarding career, one where we can witness the patient’s first breath — or their last. It’s a profession that truly teaches you to appreciate life, not take it for granted … I’ve never been more proud of myself than I am on this day. I can’t wait to see where nursing takes me.”

“It’s been a long road to get to this point — certainly longer than I planned when I started this journey,” Katie Wheeler said.

Wheeler, of Holland, thanked her classmates for their friendship, support and laughter “throughout this rollercoaster ride that made us question our sanity one minute and fall in love with our profession the next.”

ADN graduates include Amal Amouri, South Bend, Ind.; Quante Anderson, Niles; Heather Berry, Mishawaka, Ind.; Rebecca Birdsall, Constantine; Megan Butryn, Dowagiac; Sarah Clanton, Niles; Nellie Coquillard, Niles; Matthew Dallavalle, Portage; Rachel DeLong, Kalamazoo; Tonya Gonzales, St. Joseph; Elizabeth Graham, Cassopolis; Michele Hoffman, Granger, Ind.; Allyson Hughes, Vandalia; Amanda Keeton, Marcellus; Maryna Khomenko, Dowagiac; Ryan Kiser, Coloma; Michelle Lambert, Kalamazoo; Kimberly McAlpine, Cassopolis; Todd Mendez, Niles; Elizabeth Paquin, Jones; Josalyn Pratt, Kalamazoo; Amanda Sedlarik, Jones; Rebecca Smith, Dowagiac; Morgan Stephenson, Cassopolis; Taryn Thurston, South Bend; Katie Wheeler, Holland; Kathryn Williams, Decatur; Laura Wydick, Paw Paw; and Daina Zehfus, Buchanan, president of the student nurse association.

Rebecca Jellison, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Services, announced Kiser received the Florence Nightingale Award from his fellow graduates.

“This award embodies the following characteristics: selfless, compassionate, thoughtful, a team player, dependable, generous and humble,” Jellison said. “The nominee has been a constant encourager to classmates since the beginning. He has a huge heart and is always there to offer a hand to any and every one.”

Jellison introduced faculty members Debbie Green, RN, MSN, Chair; Yolanda Roche, RN, MSN; Jodi Tidey, RN, MSN; Patti Frontczak, RN, MSN; Peggylee Myers, RN, BSN; Tammy Jerz, RN, MSN; Michelle Converse, RN, MSNE; Melissa Kennedy, RN, MSN; Rona Goodrich, RN, MSN; and April Chew, RN, MSN.