Through loss, suffering and triumphs, nurses have been a part of life-changing journeys. On Tuesday, College of the Canyons sent off 54 students to the nursing world at their 2023 Pinning Ceremony.
“Caring must be a part of your basic nature,” said COC Chancellor Dianne Van Hook. “I bet if you think back from when you came from the tiny little you, then remember those times when you cared for someone else when you were kind and when you listened with your heart.”
The ceremony served as recognition for the students’ program achievements and to provide each student with a pin to wear at their commencement ceremony on Friday.
Each student received a pin, representing them as a future nurse, and lit a candle to signify Florence Nightingale’s attributes to the nursing world.
Sixty-six percent of the 54 will move forward from earning their associate’s degree in nursing to pursuing their bachelor’s degree in nursing.
The 2023 class will total the number of graduating nursing students from COC since 1999 to 2,294.
“They truly have the power to change the world with all the lives they will touch in their careers,” said Nursing Program Director Tammy Bathke. “I stand here in awe imagining the vast amounts of service they will provide to people over the course of their careers.”
Becoming a nurse held a special place in a lot of the students’ hearts.
Van Hook read Kitari Taton’s tragic story of almost losing her life in a car accident.
“The car accident taught me how precious life is, that every detail of life matters,” said Van Hook on Taton’s behalf. “Life is worth protecting and saving.”
Taton learned firsthand the significance that nurses have in the world. She wanted to be a part of that.
Van Hook also reflected on September 2022, when her husband was in the hospital. Van Hook was stressed and saddened, but the nurses at the hospital were more than gracious.
One played her husband Elvis all day long on their own phone and the other was a COC nursing graduate.
“As a nurse you will have a wonderful opportunity to wake up every day and make a positive difference in the world,” said Van Hook. “You will spend time with patients in their most vulnerable state. You will be given a gift to help them heal, welcome and be locked into their family, offering them comfort in times of sadness, listen to them and encourage them, in addition to providing a high level of care to best support the patients.”
The 54 students descended the stairs onto the stage of the COC Performing Arts Center to Andra Day’s “Rise Up” as an embodiment of the song’s title, what they had to do to get to this point.
Student Simone Ralph A. Delos Santos began the year 2021 by discovering he had a chronic illness. Three months later, his mother died in a car crash. He faced a breakup and lost his job.
Through it all, he applied for the nursing program.
He didn’t get in.
Delos Santos didn’t stop and finally on April 15, 2022, he received that “congratulations” email.
“I’ve been given the power to help others and be a part of their most vulnerable times and moments,” said Delos Santos.
The following students received awards voted on by their peers:
- Most inquisitive student – Bethany Grey (whose son yelled “That’s my mom!” as she accepted her award).
- Best sense of humor – Thomas Siounit.
- Best team player – Courtney Gonzales.
The following students received scholarship awards voted on by current and retired faculty members:
- Clinical excellence award – Melanie Maes.
- Florence Nightingale award – Simon Peters.
- Leadership award – Delila Sanchez.
- Academic award – Shannon Hoffmann.