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Berkshire Community College holds its pinning ceremony for the Practical Nursing Program in the Robert Boland Theatre on Thursday.
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Dean of Nursing Lori Moon says it was the first time she'd seen all of our students without a mask on.
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Elizabeth Kirby reminds the students that the mission of nursing is to help their fellow man.
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Resilient Nursing Graduates Honored in BCC Pinning Ceremony

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Graduate Natalie Weeks speaks of how the class went above and beyond during the pandemic.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Twenty-four graduates of Berkshire Community College's Practical Nursing Program were recognized Thursday evening at a traditional pinning ceremony in the Robert Boland Theatre.

A sense of honor was in the air for the class that became nurses in the thick of a global pandemic while working on the front lines.

"This has been a very stressful year, probably the biggest understatement I could ever make, right? I think everyone here can agree," Dean of Nursing Lori Moon said to the students, whose faces she saw without masks for the first time at the ceremony.

"This group of practical nursing students are very special, they weathered the storm with grace and resilience, they went above and beyond when our community needed their help, and they've successfully completed this program, so they have a lot to be proud of."  

Class speaker Natalie Weeks spoke on the trials tribulations the class endured the past school year that resulted in a communal bond.

"We are all on our own personal journeys and it's incredible, some of us are from other countries, speak other languages, have different work backgrounds, have kids, and the list goes on," she said to her peers.

"This class has shown and proven that your past does not define who you can become and what kind of life you can live, despite our differences we have cared for and supported each other within the past 10 months."

"Not only have we learned skills from class, but we have learned skills from our classmates' skills such as working together, listening, putting away biases, and making a positive impact in someone else's life, these skills not only make you an amazing nurse, but an amazing person, and you are all amazing people."

Weeks said that throughout this journey, she pondered the meaning of being a nurse, a student, and most importantly how she can make a positive impact in patients' lives.

"I know this program has taught us all how to make this a priority, the connections we have made with each other are strong enough to last a lifetime, no matter our future endeavors," she concluded. "We will all take different paths in our careers, but no matter what we will all have this experience in common and will go on to do great things and make positive differences in our patients' lives. I believe nurses have a unique perspective on how valuable life is, this perspective is a gift, and hope we can all use that to make our own lives more meaningful."

Guest speaker Elizabeth Kirby, a registered nurse and director of education at Berkshire Health Systems, spoke on the significance of the nurse's pin and how the pinning ceremony pays honor to the graduates as they officially enter their professions.

Founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale extended the honor of a pin to her most talented nurses by giving them each a medal, she explained, and, in 1880, the first nurse's pin as we know it today was given to the graduating class at Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing in New York City.

By 1916, every nursing school was honoring its graduates with the pins that are a "special symbol of who nurses are and why they are here."

"We exist in this profession to help our fellow man. And we when we lose sight of that we become very disillusioned," she said.

"We need to push ourselves beyond those difficult days and times we need to realize that not only do we deal with sadness and difficulty, but we also deal with miracles, the birth of a new baby, the cancer patient cured, the trauma patients saved, the COVID patient recovered and may be going home after several months in the hospital. These miracles happen because we were there to care, there to help, and do whatever was needed for the patient."

Also in the ceremony, Maryblessing Nnodim was presented with the Academic Excellence in Nursing Award: Xiomara Serrano-Guzman with the Clinical Excellence in Nursing Award: Katherine Morton with the Professionalism in Nursing Award: and Amy Slattery with the Spirit of Nursing Award.

The nursing pins were a donation from former adjunct professor Paula Walczyk and Stan Walczyk.

The class of 2021 graduates are: 
Herika Carvalho-Galusha 
Lisa Curley 
George Fiadjoe 
Rhianna Graham 
Danielle Harriott 
Samantha Hillard 
Samantha Ireland 
Allison Klink 
Emily Knickerbocker 
Anita Kusi 
Caroline Maina 
Heather Marsh 
Molly McKenna 
Katherine Morton 
Kelvin Mwai 
Briannah Nichlen 
Maryblessing Nnodim 
Marguerite Ouimette 
Angelica Sanchez 
Xiomara Serrano-Guzman 
Amy Slattery 
Samantha Stockley 
Natalie Weeks 
Gislain Yanga-Njike 

Tags: BCC,   nursing education,   pinning,   

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BCC Institutes Debt Forgiveness Program

PITTSFIELD, Mass — Berkshire Community College (BCC) announced its plans to use $335,000 in federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) to erase outstanding balances accrued by students enrolled in credit degree or certificate programs from March 13, 2020 through May 31, 2021. 
HEERF funds were earmarked as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Students affected by the program have been informed via letter, which states:
"We care about you, and we are committed to doing everything we can to help you continue to meet your educational goals at BCC. We appreciate the challenges of being a college student during the pandemic, and we are here to help you moving forward."
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