Victor Valley College celebrated the graduation of 34 nursing students during a pinning and candlelight ceremony at High Desert Church Friday evening.
The nursing Class of Spring 2019 was dressed in traditional white uniforms as they recited the International Nursing Pledge, promising to care for the sick and uphold the integrity of the professional nurse.
College leaders, staff, family members, and friends all gathered together to commemorate the graduates’ completion of one of the nation’s most elite nursing programs.
Katherine Shields, president of the VVC chapter of the California Student Nursing Association, shared with guests her experiences in the program.
She explained that the CNSA is an opportunity for nursing students to learn about leadership, delegation, education stewardship, and community.
“As cabinet members, we have learned about leadership and delegation while setting up various events,” Shields said, such as March of Dimes, Relay for Life, and many of the chapter’s own events. “CNSA encourages both personal and professional development.”
She went on to present the Make a Difference award to nursing instructor Silvia Portillo, stating that Portillo was hugely supportive of the nursing students through the highs and lows of the program.
“She has given us all that she has while remaining compassionate and of course, fashionable,” Shields said.
Class President Kristin Hennekens also thanked Portillo, along with all the instructors of the program, “for sharing their passion for nursing.” She went on to thank her fellow classmates, revisiting some of the important moments shared during their studies.
“As each of us look back at our time here at VVC, a few moments stick out more than others,” Hennekens said. “I recall my first successful IV in the Emergency Department of Arrowhead Regional Medical Center — I felt so accomplished!”
She went on to recount participating in caring for a young preemie in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, caring for patients on ventilators, and successfully performing CPR on a patient.
“Each of us have had these kinds of experiences, and through them have found that nursing is such an emotionally rewarding profession that will change your heart forever,” Hennekens said. “Most of the patients we encounter at the hospital, it will be one of their worst days, and as nurses we have the opportunity to change that for them through the care we provide.”
Of the 34 graduates, 11 made up the first graduating cohort of students who had their tuition and fees completely covered through a contract with Desert Valley Hospital.
The VVC Foundation brokered the contract, which covers tuition and the cost of books and supplies for 64 total nursing students, in 2016. As part of the agreement, the nursing students selected for the award will, upon graduation, enter three years of employment at DVH.
During the ceremony, nursing instructor Terry Truelove reminded the graduates that nursing is “the most trusted profession in our country.”
“I challenge you — I want you to go out and protect our community,” Truelove said. “Know that they’re relying on you for good care, to be wise, to be knowledgeable, and to be prepared.”
Student Achievement awards were given to four graduates with the highest grade point averages: Cindy Priber, Erin M. Thornton, Alison Biery, and Dillon Moffett.
Clinical Excellence awards went to Heather R. Reano for psychiatric, Stephanie M. Zapiain for pediatrics, Christina Gonzalez for maternal child, Jose S. Guzman for medical surgery, and Kelly Dowland for advanced medical surgery.
The Spirit of Nursing award went to Shayla Rae Savchenko, while the Community Service awards went to Mayra Hernandez and Christine Mayer.
The entire graduating class of Spring 2019 is as follows: BreAnna Baca, Alison Biery, Jennifer Buckley, Misti Bustos, Khrysa Calevro, Diane R. Chaffin, Angelina Chavarria, Josue Cisneros, Tanya Corrales, Christina A. Dean, Nikki Drost, Heather Tolson Fortner, Jonathan Garcia, Charlene Jeanette Gonzalez, Christina Gonzalez, Jose S. Guzman, Kristin Hennekens, Mayra C. Hernandez, Erika Starman-Leon, Christine Mayer, Jarett A. Mejia, Dillon Moffett, Cindy Priber, Heather R. Reano, Shayla Rae Savchenko, Amy L. Shaw, Katherine H. Shields, Andrea M. Sidnam, Karmilah Taylor, Erin M. Thornton, Kimberly Wiles-Ulmer, Stephanie Urban, Stephanie M. Zapiain, Robert Brian Zelleck II.