Nursing Class of Fall 2019

Victor Valley College celebrates Fall 2019 nursing graduates

Nursing Class of Fall 2019

VICTORVILLE — Last week, 35 Victor Valley College nursing graduates participated in a pinning and candlelight ceremony to celebrate their completion of one of the nation’s most elite nursing programs. 

The ceremony was held at High Desert Church in December to honor the nursing class of Fall 2019. Dressed in traditional white uniforms, the future registered nurses each recited the International Nursing Pledge.

Part of the pledge reads: “I will endeavour to keep my professional knowledge and skill at the highest level and to give loyal support and cooperation to all members of the health team.”

Interim Director of Nursing Renate Longoria explained that the ceremony symbolizes the end of the many challenges that the students overcame throughout the strenuous program. She said the knowledge they gained has not only enabled them to become registered nurses, but has also made them “more confident individuals.”

Longoria introduced various notable figures present at the ceremony, including the VVC Board of Trustees, and thanked the family and friends of the graduates for their continued support.

Reyna Monroy, vice president of the California Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA) for the class, recognized the cabinet members of CNSA and shared some highlights of the program. 

“The purpose of the CNSA is to prepare the future leaders of nursing, by ‘advancing the transition from student nurse to a professional nurse through leadership, education, mentorship and advocacy,’” she said. “This year we participated in many events that gave back to the community.”

Among these events, the class collaborated with the Victor Valley Rescue Mission to serve hot meals and provide health care services in the community, assisted the Hesperia Leisure League in collecting clothes for senior citizens at Spring Valley Post Acute and worked with the VVC Associated Student Body in placing 3,000 flags in honor of the victims of September 11th, 2001.

Monroy also introduced instructor Diana Sisk, who was honored with the Fall 2019 “Make a Difference” award.

As a class, the students voted on one staff member who they felt helped them make it through the program.

“(Diana) was available all year round,” Monroy said. “She personally came to sit with you when you didn’t understand something and sat with you until you understood.”

Class of Fall 2019 President Adrian Gonzalez-Carrillo also spoke before his peers, sharing some of his favorite memories from the program as well as the challenges faced throughout.

“This nursing program has shaped us all into people that we could have never imagined, and though getting to this point was not easy, I want to say thank you to everyone who stood by us and for seeing us through,” Gonzalez-Carrillo said. “…As all of us go out to step foot into our new careers and with some of us going on to continue our education, I want to say no matter what you do or wherever this amazing career takes you, continue to strive, continue to succeed, and continue to aspire to make a difference.”

Student Achievement awards went to four graduates with the highest grade point averages: Aleksey Sebryakov, Emily Rodriguez, Ashley Hay and Reyna Monroy.

Clinical Excellence awards went to Irina Cruse for medical surgery, Brittany Robinson for advanced medical surgery, Adrian Gonzalez-Carrillo for maternal/child, Luis Rosas for pediatrics and Dawn Jabonillo for mental health. The Student Leadership Award went to Justine Gómez. 

VVC’s nursing program is among the nation’s most elite. In California, it is ranked among the top 5 programs by several surveys, including, which ranks it as No. 4 and praises it for producing graduates who are “ready to work.”

The entire graduating class of Fall 2019 is as follows: Amanda Agrusa, Ashley Alberts, Rosalinda Anguiano, Angela Buck, Carmira (Karma) Cortez, Irina Cruse, Me’Shell Davis, Gretchen Dennison, Nathalie García, Sean Fall, Naomi Flores, Brandon Foster, Michael García, David Gaul, Justine Gómez, Adrian Gonzales-Carrillo, Ashley Hay, Audrey Hayes, Dawn Jabonillo, Melissa Jaramillo, Cassidy Jones, Jonette Kruk, Jessica Maley, Reyna Monroy, Jennifer Porón Barrios, Brittany Robinson, Christina Rodriguez, Emily Rodriguez, Luis Rosas, Aleksey Sebryakov, Elizabeth Seidler, Shana Strathmann, Gladys Thompson, Rhiannon Torres, Jennifer Will.


VVC students receive emergency response training during Multi-Discipline Day

Photo by Fabian Guillen

Story by Charity Lindsey & Julio Manzo

First responders in training received valuable preparation for their future jobs during Victor Valley College’s Multi-Discipline Day on Nov. 14th.

The biannual event is filled with roughly 45 drills meant to give VVC’s nursing, law enforcement, fire technology, emergency medical technology, and paramedic students a taste of real scenarios that they may encounter in their careers. 

“Several scenarios have been set up around the Regional Public Safety Training Center to expose students to realistic police and corrections situations and investigations to assist them in their learning experience,” said Rand Padgett, Director of Criminal Justice at VVC. “Students will be putting the skills they have been taught to work through situations and investigations.”

Photo by Fabian Guillen

Nursing students ran the, “VVC Trauma Center,” which simulates Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. There were students covered in special effects makeup including realistic lacerations, burns, and other wounds.

“They’re learning the principles of emergency medicine,” said VVC nursing professor Terry Truelove. “It’s teaching them triage protocol during an emergency, like a natural disaster.”

Students from Academy for Academic Excellence (AAE), Academy for Career Exploration (ACE), Options for Youth, and Oak Hills, Sultana, Yucaipa, and Hesperia high schools observed as VVC students utilized their newly learned skills.

Every single one of the 250 high school students who attended also gained a life-saving skill while visiting the RPSTC: How to perform CPR.

Photo by Fabian Guillen

Emil Kennås, a foreign exchange student from Sweden who is a senior at ACE, was pleasantly surprised by the events that took place.

“The most surprising thing was how realistic everything was. I have never seen something like this in Sweden so it was so cool to see,” Kennås said. “My biggest dream is to be a doctor in my home country, Sweden. So seeing this was so inspiring.”

Photo by Fabian Guillen

Amid the hospital simulation, fire technology students were battling vehicle and dumpster fires and extricating victims from the wreckage of a car accident. Scenarios went on throughout the afternoon, including a police riot and active shooter training.

The RPSTC holds these training days twice a year; once in spring semester and once in fall. Along with providing important real-life learning for VVC students, it allows high school students in the region an opportunity to get a glimpse of college-level training.

High school students
Photo by Fabian Guillen

Joseph Alexy, a senior at AAE, said the “experience was amazing.”

“Being able to see behind the scenes and witness what training is involved to be able to become a firefighter, EMR, or a police office was such a unique experience,” Alexy said. “They really do training for anything which shows just how dedicated they were.”

Nursing graduation

Victor Valley College celebrates 34 nursing graduates

Nursing graduation

Thirty-four Victor Valley College nursing graduates were celebrated during a pinning ceremony on May 31st, 2019. (JRZ Photography)

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.


VVC nursing alumni: Husband, wife both named emergency room directors

Husband and wife Steve and April Early are both Victor Valley College nursing program graduates who have been recently promoted to hospital emergency department administrators. Photos: Left from Big Bear Grizzly newspaper / Right from ROTWNews.

Two Victor Valley College nursing program graduates — husband and wife Steve and April Early — have both recently been promoted to hospital emergency department administrators.

April, a VVC graduate of Spring 2014, was named the Emergency Department Director at Bear Valley Community Hospital (BVCHD), while Steve was named the Emergency Department Manager at Mountains Community Hospital (MCH).

April was promoted to the position by the BVCHD Administrative Team on March 25th, according to a post on the hospital’s website. She is a long-time resident of Big Bear who has worked at BVCHD on and off since she was 18.

“BVCHD is so happy to have April take on this position,” the hospital website states. “We look forward to seeing what new and exciting things she has planned for the Emergency Department!

According to a Big Bear Grizzly newspaper story, April began as a clerk in the BVHCD emergency room soon after graduating high school in 2004, while becoming certified as an EMT.

“I was inspired by my coworkers as I learned what nurses can do (in emergency medicine),” Early told the Grizzly. “Emergency medicine was my original plan out of school. I like the excitement, the adrenaline. I felt I was making a different.”

Both Earlys decided to attend VVC to continue their education and earn their nursing degrees.

“I think that is the smart way to go,” Early told the newspaper. “Victor Valley (College) has a great reputation. Community college leads to an associate’s degree that lets you get to work.”

Both Steve and April also recently obtained their masters degrees in nursing.

Steve has been working in emergency rooms for the past 17 years, according to a post on ROTWNews. He began as an EMT after he was honorably discharged from the military after 10 years of service. He most recently worked at BVCHD.

“(Steve) is excited and very honored to be given the privilege of leading the ER at MCH,” the post states.