Last week marked a special day for some students at the Thomson campus of Augusta Tech. Approximately 150 people attended the pinning ceremony for the practical nursing class on Thursday.
"Today is special, not only for Augusta Tech, but for the State of Georgia, because y'all will be going to take your state boards in a few weeks, and we always get great board scores," Ted Duzenski, the vice-president of operations of the Thomson campus, said during his opening remarks.
Keynote speaker, Jeanie Bohler, a Licensed Practical Nurse and one of the class's adjunct instructors, told the students she knew they were ready for the state tests.
"All the stress and struggles with those infamous ATI's will pay off, I promise," she said as the graduates nodded their heads and groaned. "I have faith that you will be the best you can be and that you will continue to strive for the best that you can give."
Ms. Bohler said she remembered teaching the students their basic skills in their first clinical experiences.
"Many of you went on through the program, toting heavy books, taking tests, attending skill labs and clinical rotations. ... You have learned just what you are truly made of. You have learned to do what nobody else will do, in a way that nobody else can do. And that, my friends, is a true nurse."
Student Jeana Greer said the hardest part of the program was test days. She said the only thing harder than tests, was "waiting to see if you made it to the next quarter."
Her classmate, however, said every part was hard.
"It's been a long, hard journey," Ashley Anne Thomas said. "I've learned that anything is possible if I put my mind to it. I gained a lot of strength and courage, and feel like I'm a different person, now. Today, I'm overwhelmed, relieved, it's impossible to put into words."
Instructor and Registered Nurse Margaret Pella encouraged them, reminding the 15 graduates that most already had received several job offers.
"The only problem is choosing which one to take, and that's a nice problem to have in this economy," she said.
The 15 graduates honored at the ceremony include: Melinda Adkins, Rainne Austin, Ashley Bourne, Barry Cochran, Selene Etterling, Jeana Greer, Shannika Ivey, Sandi Jones, Angel Lewis, Shannisa Mathis, Ashley Anne Thomas, Amanda Townsend, Krissy Veal, Chirrikkia Woodruff and Monique Young.