Daniel Castillo, 23, of Copperas Cove, said he has a passion for working in a cardiac department and will start his first job as a registered nurse in February.
“I will work at Baylor Scott & White in STC II, for cardiac care,” Castillo said.
Castillo was one of 31 graduates of the Nursing and Allied Health Department at Central Texas College who were recognized for their passage from student to nurse during a pinning ceremony Dec. 14 at CTC.
Like Castillo, many of the graduates are already lining up jobs in the ever-growing medical field.
“You all did what was necessary to be here at this time. We are all so very proud of you. You did it. You did it as a team. You did it with your faculty, and all of us are very proud of you,” said Dr. Priscilla Clark, chairwoman of the Department of Nursing and Allied Health.
The ceremony began as a procession of the 31 nurses, adorned in white vintage style nursing uniforms. One of the graduate nurses, Anitra Smithey led the invocation, and Janeen Talton led the introduction speech and introduced the guest speaker, Rashidah Nefertiti Danquah.
Danquah, an alumni of CTC’s nursing program, gave a special message to the graduates, and encouraged them in their future.
“Your success is a testament of your endurance and courage. Believe in yourself and your quest to serve mankind,” Danquah.
Out of the 31 graduating students, nine students received recognition for maintaining their GPA in the 3.5 to 3.79 range on the 4.0 scale. One nurse, Maria Villagran was recognized as a highest honors graduate for maintaining a 4.0 GPA in her nursing courses.
Villigran is an Army veteran, and her spouse is serving in the Army. A mother of one son, and working part time as a licensed vocational nurse at a home health agency, Villigran said maintaining her 4.0 GPA in nursing school has been difficult.
“But I didn’t do it alone. My teachers and classmates helped a lot,” Villigran said, adding she survived on three or four hours of sleep per night.
Villigran and her family are relocating to El Paso, and she hopes to find a job with Veterans Affairs. “I want to serve those who served,” she said.
The nine honors graduates were Tabitha Berryhill, Morgan Day, Gilda Donis-Lake, Rachael Holland, Sonni Hunt, Tanya Foster, Brianne Lubetich, Amy Parrott and Anitra Smithey.
Janeen Talton, based on nominations from her student peers, received the Caring Heart Award for exemplifying the three C’s (caring, compassion and concern) of nursing, presented by Kimberly Brock, faculty member and nurse.
“This award is to honor and inspire those students who go the extra mile and emulate compassion and concern for others,” Brock said.
Other awards for exemplary performance were presented to Sandra Hinrichsen, who received a gift card from Monarch Uniforms, and Villagran, who received a gift card from Scrubtopia Medical Outfitters.
Following the awards, the students were pinned and congratulated by their professors, and participated in a traditional candle-lighting ceremony.
Following the ceremony was the reciting of the Nightingale Pledge.
The fall 2017 CTC ADN graduates are Chioma Acho, John Allen, Celestine Barrientos, Tabitha Berryhill, Austin Callahan, Daniel Castillo, Maria Chavez, Victoria Dalhberg, Morgan Day, Gilda Donis-Lake, Alison Ford, Tanya Foster, Mercedes Groover, Marissa Hill, Sandra Hinrichsen, Rachael Holland, Yauhen Horbik, Sonni Hunt,Kreisha King, Kathryn Lovett, Brianne Lubetich, Meagan Mandel, Mark McKeel, Amy Parrott, Meghan Saavedra, Briana Sims, Anitra Smithey, Jade Solis, Janeen Tarlton, Maria Villagran and Frances Washington.