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Monday, July 15, 2024

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Nursing Grads Persevere in Pandemic’s Shadow

Practical Nurse Alicia Harper was accompanied to the stage by her son

By Carl Price

CREST HAVEN – When the 2020 Practical Nursing class began their studies at Cape May County Technical School, there was no thought of mask-wearing, social distancing, or a pandemic that would change the world.
Then came COVID-19, and a redefining of what nursing entails, yet the class put in the hard work while dealing with the virus, raising families, working, and trying to stay healthy. They did it all and celebrated with family and friends Aug. 11 in the school parking lot.
After the national anthem and flag salute, led by student Jodi Urbani, the invocation, “A Nurse’s Prayer,” was recited by Christine Alford. It says, in part, “Give me gentle, healing hands for those placed in my care; a blessing to those who need me.”
That sentiment was echoed by many of the speakers throughout the ceremony.
“Being a nurse is not just a job, it is also a great responsibility. You are an advocate for your patients. You may be the only voice they have. With great responsibility comes great privilege,” said nursing instructor Kelly Edelman, MSN, RN, CRRN, CBIS.
Alan Gould, president, Board of Education, told the assembly “the country needs health care workers now, more than ever,” considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Nancy Hudanich, district superintendent, recognized the students’ hard work and help from family and friends.
“We are here to celebrate the sacrifice of the students, their families, and friends. The bigger the challenge, the better your sense of accomplishment,” Hudanich said.
Nancy Wheeler-Driscoll, director of curriculum and instruction and adult and community education, performed the presentation of diplomas, followed by the class pinning and lamp lighting ceremony by instructors Edelman, Barbara Juzaitis, MSN, RN, CIC, and Ann Zilinek, BSN, RN.
Both ceremonies are related to famed nurse Florence Nightingale, who reformed nursing by offering systematic training and professionalism. Nightingale’s nursing school started the tradition of pinning nursing graduates, and Nightingale was known for walking through the battlefields at night, carrying a lamp, looking for wounded soldiers.
Out of respect for social distancing, graduates pinned themselves and lit their lamps. Newly pinned nurse Erin Raggio recited the Nightingale Pledge.
Class speaker Ashley Andel told the audience that nursing school was not what she expected, but the experience, combined with working at Cape Regional Urgent Care performing COVID-19 testing, brought her to a realization that “nursing is 100% my calling.”
She ended her speech by quoting Walt Disney: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
After the graduation ceremony, Andel said she plans to continue her education and pursue nursing in the obstetrics and gynecology field.
Practical Nurse Deborah Baskerville traveled from Galloway Township, in Atlantic County, to attend school and said time on the road was worth it. The dental assistant, wife, and mother said the journey brought her to the breaking point, but completing the challenge was worth it.
“I knew a little from being a dental assistant, but this program was way deeper. We are prepared to pursue this career,” Baskerville said. She plans to pursue LPN and RN degrees.
Student Kimberly Marko summed up the class’ experience, writing in her class comments, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing.”
The graduates of the Class of 2020 are:
* Christine Alford with high honors
* Ashley Andel with high honors
* Robert Andino
* Deborah Baskerville with honors
* Grace Bauer with honors
* Rashay Bryant with honors
* Shevi’Lynn Calfine with high honors
* Yadira Calixto with honors
* Rosa Castro
* Xochitl De La Cruz with high honors 
* Ashley Ellison
* Marissa Evans with honors
* Isabella Hannig
* Alicia Harper
* Kathryn Magill
* Kimberly Marko with honors
* Miranda McAnulty
* Anita O’Campo with honors
* Jamie Patton
* Erin Raggio with high honors
* Diana Rollins-Gray with honors
* Devyn Sittineri
* Devan Stankiewicz with honors
* Jodi Urbani with honors
* Brittany Vega with honors
To contact Carl Price, email cprice@cmcherald.com.

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