Pinned & ProudMay 16, 2017 By Steve Peck, Publisher
Central Wyoming College nursing graduates heard applause, congratulations and advice during colorful pinning ceremonies Thursday, May 11, at the Robert A. Peck Arts Center Theater in Riverton.
Abut 400 spectators watched as ceremonial pins were bestowed to 21 students.
Graduates were accompanied to the stage by a variety of loved ones, including parents, spouses, siblings and children who affixed the ceremonial nursing pins on the "scrubs" that the graduates wore for the evening.
Another seven grads from CWC's Jackson program were pinned Sunday, May 14, in Teton County.
College vice president for academic affairs Dr. Kathy Wells, herself a former director of the nursing program, hosted Thursday's ceremony, noting progress in the nursing program from her beginnings at CWC 17 years earlier to the expanded offerings in both Riverton and Jackson, along with the completion of the state-of-the-art McFarland Health and Science Center, which serves as the program headquarters on the main campus in Riverton.
Longtime nursing instructor Debbie McClure, chosen by students to address the assembly, noted the high moral calling for nurses who choose a profession to help the "many people who are hurting."
She entertained the crowd with recollections of her own nurse pinning ceremony in 1977 at Casper College. Graduates were required to buy their own pins, and McClure's costs $88.
"To a young nursing graduate at the time, that was a small fortune," she said.
McClure spoke of three "Cs" of nursing -- courage, commitment and connection -- that she had identified during her 40-year career as a nurse, nursing administrator and nursing educator. She announced her retirement but pledged to the graduates that she would "strive to assist you in channeling your inherent qualities" as nurses.
Graduates later presented McClure with gifts and farewell thoughts on stage.
Graduate speaker Brian Jensen addressed the tension and emotion confronted by students at the start of the two-year program.
"We were told it's OK to cry in nursing school," he said to laughs from the audience.
He said an important aspect of success in the program is the gradual building of cooperative friendship with other students, and he lamented that Thursday might have been the last time he would see some of his fellow graduates.
Jensen was one of five students completing service in the CWC Student Nurses Association, where he served as activities director. Briana Franks was the association president, with vice president Emily Scheer, secretary Heather Antolik and treasurer Matt Robinson.
Dr. Brad Tyndall, president of Central Wyoming College, spoke as well, honoring the graduates for their accomplishments and lauding McClure as an example of "a life well-lived."
Also participating in the ceremony was Stacey Stanek, the assistant director of nursing, and fellow faculty members Dawn Graves, Paula Kihn, Elizabeth Oliver, Amy Hernandez, Anne Nez, Jennifer McCartney and Cindy Weber.
Two student awards were announced. Emily Scheer was recognized for outstanding academic performance, and Briana Franks was honored with the professionalism in nursing award.
Franks wore her grandmother's nursing cape, which in the past was a familiar part of a military nurse's uniform, particularly during World War I.
The Central Wyoming College nursing class of 2017:
RIVERTON -- Carina Alexander, Heather Antolik, Terri Binns, Rico Coar Fernandez, Ashlyn Coulson, Amanda DeVore, Francis Del Luca, Wanda Ditton, Vicki Foss, Briana Franks, Barbara Hall, Brian Jensen, Lindsey McKinney, Renee Miller, Sarah Nicely, Jessica Ortiz, Matthew Robinson, Emily Scheer, Lindsay Simpson, Nichole Simpson and Amy Woodward.
JACKSON -- Neil Chamberlin, Mark Henderson, Chantelle Johnson, Peter Kolehmainen, Autumn Lane, McKenna Lee, Danielle Smith.