Jones College celebrates accomplishments of 46 Practical Nursing graduates

ELLISVILLE – Most of the 20 graduates from Jones College’s Practical Nursing summer program returned to campus to participate in the traditional Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony. They joined the 26 Fall graduates at the Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony prior to Thanksgiving, at the end of the semester. The CDC’s COVID-19 protocols restricted most gatherings last summer, including graduation ceremonies to help prevent the spread of the virus. However, using a little creativity, Jones College Practical Nursing Director, Teresa McDonald, and Jones administrators found a way to celebrate safely, outside in the Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Football Field.

“Nursing school is hard and as a nurse, you will face many challenges every day when you arrive to work.  These graduates have adapted, adjusted and accepted the challenges and the changes, and they were successful,” said McDonald. “We are especially happy that we can celebrate your accomplishments together today, with those who have supported you through this journey, amidst this pandemic.”

One of the graduates from the inaugural part-time practical nursing program at the Wayne County Center was Kimberly Breland. At 35 years of age, the wife and mother of two children said she knew when the program started in Waynesboro, she wanted to be in class.

“I knew it was going to be a struggle because my husband works out of town; it was all on me to succeed. Then, classes switched to online, and my kids were home and they needed help with their schoolwork, which turned into a fight to get them to study and complete assignments,” said Breland. “Online courses have all the resources and information, but you have to teach yourself which takes determination. In the end, I have learned more than becoming a nurse. It has taught me to lean on others too.”

Breland’s determination exceeded her own expectations. Not only did she succeed, but Breland landed at the top of her class.

“I have always been a helpful and giving person who fell in love with the medical field as a teenager. Graduating from the Jones College practical nursing program is a huge accomplishment for me,” said Breland.

Jacque Fitch of Meridian also faced the challenge of learning online, raising kids, and keeping her job. In addition to commuting to Wayne County, Fitch lost her mother prior to starting classes.

“As I close one chapter in my life with graduation, I am starting another chapter,” said Fitch.  “I want to make a positive impact on my community, support my family and be a good example for my child.  With my passion and a drive to be a part of the healing process, I want to continue my education at Jones and through its partnership with the University of South Alabama, earn my bachelor’s degree in nursing. Hopefully, I can also get my master’s degree and be a Nurse Practitioner.”

Also seizing the opportunity to accomplish her dream of becoming an L.P.N. was 38-year old Candice Ball of Laurel. Initially, she left her career as a dental assistant and office administrator to homeschool her then, 11th-grade daughter. Ball soon recognized it was also the perfect opportunity to fulfill her lifelong dream by applying at Jones College.

“I used to dream of applying and I finally did it! I figured it was now or never! Graduating this program means everything to me,” said Ball.  “Of course, nursing school is very challenging, but my classmates became family.  Having an amazing support system at home was also crucial. It’s been a hard journey but definitely worth it!”

During the Pinning Ceremony, Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith praised the class of 46 new practical nurses. As they take the next step in their lives, he commended the graduates for overcoming the many challenges which will prepare them, unlike any other group.

“There is nothing we do more important at the college than to educate nurses, who are going out into the front lines and making a difference in people’s lives. There will be no other graduates that will be more prepared to make a difference in humanity, than these fine graduates,” said Smith.

The Jones College practical nursing faculty members recognized three groups of students who have excelled in the program. Receiving Academic Excellence Honors were Kimberly Breland of Waynesboro and Jamie Ramsey of New Augusta. Ramsey earned the top academic award for the Full-Time program. Makeshia LeFlore of Waynesboro earned the top Academic Honor for the Night program.

Earning the Rising Star Award for the Full-Time program was Brittani Dozier of Laurel. Night program graduate, Joretta Ellison of Petal, Summer Program graduate, Roantonio Hollins of Hattiesburg, and Wayne County Center graduate, Lakeryia Lacey of Waynesboro were named Rising Stars. They were chosen for their positive attitude and perseverance, which enriched their professionalism and nursing knowledge.

The Florence Nightingale Award was given to students who encompass all the qualities of Florence Nightingale-professionalism, integrity and selflessness towards humanity. Faculty selected Candace Ball of Laurel, for the Wayne County program, Makeshia LeFlore of Waynesboro for the Night program, and Elizabeth Lee of Raleigh for the Full-Time program.

Practical Nursing faculty member, Jill Burge challenged the new graduates to be like the founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale. As they lit their lamps, Burge reminded graduates, “Florence Nightingale cared for the wounded and dying by lamplight. Patients knew when the light approached, so did comfort and mercy. Graduates, as you leave and begin your careers, you too will bring light to the sick, anxious and suffering. Never forget how important you are. We are proud of you. Let your light shine! We faculty members, pass the flame of nursing on to you.”

Practical Nursing Graduates Fall/Summer 2020

Candice Ball, Laurel

Shelena Benamon, Porterville

Jordan Boss, Richton

Stuart Bowman, Petal

Emerald Bradshaw, Raleigh

Kimberly Breland, Waynesboro

Deborah Craig, Waynesboro

Sarah Davis, Seminary

Tania Dean, Ellisville

Laurie Dear, Hickory

Jessica Deese, Waynesboro

Brittani Dozier, Laurel

Ginger Ekes, Laurel

Joretta Ellison, Petal

Raven Evans, Laurel

Jacque Fitch, Meridian

Candice Forrest, Waynesboro

Lauren Fowler, Meridian

Kashareya Funches, Cleveland

Kandy Griggs, Waynesboro

Catalynn “Gabi” Hodge, Laurel

Samantha Holifield, Laurel

Roantonio Hollins, Hattiesburg

Leeanna Hutto, Laurel

Abbigail Johnson, Waynesboro

Lakeryia Lacey, Waynesboro

Karri Lambert, Petal

Kelsie Lawson, Laurel

Makeshia LeFlore, Waynesboro

Tammie Lofton, Waynesboro

Elizabeth Lee, Raleigh

London Magee, Franklinton, LA

Essence McCray, Laurel

Ashley McKenzie-Skipper, Quitman

Jalynn McLain, Waynesboro

Amberlee Miller, Waynesboro

Trina Moore, Lumberton

Katelyn Parker, Ellisville

Jamie Ramsey, New Augusta

Sujeila Rios, Petal

Kassidy Roney, Ellisville

Tatiana Savage, Hattiesburg

Savannah Sumrall, Perkinston

Shakera Thigpen, Shubuta

Christina Welch, Laurel

Kaila Willis, Philadelphia

Latorius Wilson, Waynesboro