Jones College Associate Degree Nursing graduates challenged, yet thriving

ELLISVILLE – Twenty-eight Associate Degree Nursing graduates left Jones College ready to continue to face the daily challenges nurses successfully handle minute by minute. College administrators and faculty noted, nurses are used to quickly adapting to “anything thrown their way.” Jones College Associate Degree Nursing Division Chair, Erin Knight, MSN, RN is especially proud of how these nursing graduates successfully navigated nursing courses and clinicals during a challenging year.

“We know that they will continue to adapt in the workplace like they did here in the classroom, in clinicals and through all of the changes with online learning during the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic,” said Knight. “You worked hard and sacrificed to earn a degree. You answer to a higher calling, and you dedicated your life to serving others. We are confident you will fulfill your dreams. I challenge you to dream big.”

Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith told the graduate’s family and friends in the audience that nursing education is the most important thing we do at Jones.

“Thank you for supporting these students and thank you for believing in us and what we do at Jones College,” said Smith. “We have high expectations, graduates, because you’re going to be there for people at their highest moments and for their lowest moments and we expect you to do the right thing, exceptionally well. I commend you and appreciate your grit accepting the challenge during a pandemic with a smile and at those times when you weren’t smiling.”

One graduate, Juliann Nelson of Petal, lost her “smile” on November 18, 2020, when she failed the mid-term in her final semester of the nursing program. She shared about the special lesson she learned on her journey from recovering from failure to graduating.

“I was defeated, and I labeled myself as a failure. I even questioned my ability to become a nurse. I felt like everything I had gone through the last few years of pursuing a life-long dream, was not enough,” said Nelson. “Instructors, thank you for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. In four short months, I gained more than I ever imagined. What I thought was my biggest failure was my biggest lesson. Never let a failure define you.”

Class of 2021 President, Anthony Daniels of Hattiesburg, encouraged his nursing graduate “family” to continue to pursue more education and “be the best nurses” that they are.

“Continue to grow and change. I challenge you to learn. Get as much knowledge as you can. No question is a stupid question. Give it all you got and help those nursing students in clinicals. Help them through those experiences. Let them see you do IV’s and the cool things on the floor. I challenge you to go out and touch lives. Even on your worst days or your best days, care for those patients like they’re your own. Give them all you got!” said Daniels.

Several students earned special recognition during the A.D.N. Pinning Ceremony, including Daniels. He was given a Certificate of Achievement as the Nominee for the 2021 Outstanding Associate Degree Nursing Student by the Mississippi Chapter of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing. Nelson was awarded with a life-time membership in the Mississippi Nurse Organization in recognition of her work with the Student Nurse Organization and the community.

Three students were honored for their perfect attendance during the five-semester program: Jemyla Fenton of Meridian, Taylor Magee of Collins and Juliann Nelson of Petal. The six students who were inducted into the Nursing Honor Society, Alpha Delta Nu, Jamie Boleware-Collins, Hannah Bynum-Mendenhall, Anthony Daniels-Hattiesburg, Alyssa Mobbs-Hattiesburg, Callie Shows-Ellisville and Jeshaiah Stephens-Ellisville were also recognized during the Pinning Ceremony.

Per tradition, students also participated in the Lighting of the Lamp ceremony as a symbol of the passing on of knowledge from nursing faculty to graduates. Knight reminded students that the nursing profession hallmark of the nursing practice is showing compassion for every patient.

“Never let your flame grow dim…. Work hard, never forget where you came from, and never stop worrying. You’re going to go out and make a difference wherever you are. You’re going to make a difference in someone’s life every day. We’re proud of your success and we look forward to hearing great things about you!” said Knight ending the ceremony by pinning each student with the nurses’ pin, a Maltese Cross.