Susan Watson, coordinator of the practical nursing program, asked the graduates to be 'change agent' in the field.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School graduated nine practical nursing students during Wednesday's pinning ceremony.
"Last January I told them it would be a very difficult year and they would have to band together and they would have to work together as a team," Superintendent James Brosnan said Wednesday as he opened the ceremony.
"All of that has come true and you earned this, and we are very proud of you."
Practical Nursing Coordinator Susan Watson asked the graduate's families to stand and be recognized for the support they have given to the graduates.
Watson told the graduates they have many different career options now but asked them to change what they see as weaknesses in their field.
"I know each of you have the ability to become a change agent in the world of health care…a person that can transform an organization focusing on matters such effectiveness, improvement, and development," she said. "I know each one of you is capable of doing this."
Watson introduced the keynote speaker Joyce Forth, who has been a clinical instructor in the program since its inception in 2007.
Forth, who is retiring from clinical instruction, told the graduates of her time as a student at St. Luke's Hospital in the 1950's where she and her fellow students were "pioneers" and actually staffed the hospital.
"I love nursing as much today as I did then, and it has been a wonderful career and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did and still do," she said.
She said although back in her day there were fewer options for nurses, in today's health care world there are many opportunities and she told the students to follow whatever career path they see fit.
She said no matter what field in health care they choose after graduation there will be a point where they "become a nurse."
"We had studied the art and science of nursing but there is a step between graduating and becoming fully confident in your own skin with patients," she said.
"I call it becoming a nurse. In a year you will know exactly what I am talking about and it will hit you. You will be on your way and you won't be afraid of anything."
Both Erika Munson, of Adams, and Ashley Witto, of Pittsfield, received the Fay Ellen Fosser Memorial Scholarship.
The Fay Ellen Fosser Memorial Scholarship is given in memory of Fosser who graduated from the LPN program, went on to earn her registered nursing degree, and worked as a nurse locally. Fosser died in 1984, at the age of 29.
Munson also received the Highest Academic Award.
Witto was awarded the Clinical Excellence Award.
Katelynn Ruusukallio, of Pittsfield, was awarded the perfect attendance award. However, she was unable to attend graduation.
The graduates are:
Erika Munson, Adams
Paige Howland, North Adams
Audrey Johnson, North Adams
Ashley Rancourt, North Adams
Kristina Geranios, Pittsfield
Peter Geranios, Pittsfield
Katelin Henault, Pittsfield
Katelynn Ruusukallio, Pittsfield
Ashley Witto, Pittsfield