Jones College Practical Nurse grads “Bridge” the healthcare gap

ELLISVILLE – Twenty-six Jones College students in the Practical Nursing program successfully completed the three-semester program and are now ready to help bridge the healthcare crisis. One way to accomplish that is through the Nursing Bridge Program offered at Jones College and many other colleges and universities statewide, to help fill the demand for nurses.

“All of our practical nursing students can go on from here in their education. In fact, nearly 50% of ours do continue their education,” said Amy Myers, Practical Nurse Program Director. “Here at Jones, there is a Bridge Program for our students and the Associate Degree Nursing program. They can work and take classes, and it takes them a little less time to earn the next degree. There are Bridge programs across the state for the bachelor’s degree in nursing too.”

This is one of the many options 53-year-old Regenia Hamilton is considering as she celebrates finishing the Practical Nursing program. The Columbia mother and grandmother and her sister, Theresa McHenry had planned to be in nursing school together, however, her 51-year-old sister had to take a few more prerequisite classes and will begin the program in January.

“When I finish the practical nursing program, I plan on bridging to the Associate Degree Program,” said McHenry. “I am also very proud of my sister today. She deserves it because she works hard. She’s going to be a great nurse and she has had it in her all these years.”

Theresa McHenry and her sister, Regenia Hamilton

Ironically, the Jones College nursing faculty also believes Hamilton most emulated the founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale. During the Pinning and Graduation Ceremony, Hamilton was selected as the recipient of the Florence Nightingale Award for her compassion, dedication, and kindness with professionalism, integrity, and selfless attitude toward humanity.

“It has changed my life coming to Jones. Every instructor has become family and I’m so excited about today,” said Hamilton. “You have endless opportunities as a nurse. I have yet to decide what I’ll do next, but it’s not a burden to think about. I’m so excited and I just want to choose the right path because at my age, you know, I want to make the best decision for me.”

In her challenge to the Level 1 Nursing students, Hamilton encouraged the group to “start over” whenever they make a mistake. “That is the one thing that I carry with me through life as an older student, but I’m here,” explained Hamilton. “When you come to that bump in the road. Start over. Regroup. Never quit and keep going.”

Dr. Tessa Flowers

Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Tessa Flowers shared with the graduates, family, and friends at the Pinning Ceremony, that the nursing program has a special place in her heart. Her grandmother is a graduate of the JCJC Practical Nursing program and is confident the newest graduates are ready to serve. She said she is also thankful for their desire to help others.

“I’m thankful for the students here today who will help bridge the gap with our current health care crisis. We need good nurses. We need nurses who are trained to take care of us. These students have the training and education. I’m also thankful for the faculty, qualified caring faculty, who have helped these students through some of the hardest days they have faced yet. They have persevered.”

LaKirria Everett pinned by Amy Myers
Shelby Brazell and Rod Tolbert

One graduate, LaKirria Everett of Waynesboro was selected to receive the Rising Star Award for showing continuous dedication and exceptional growth in the classroom and clinical setting. Her positive attitude and perseverance have enriched her professionalism and nursing knowledge, her teachers explained. The Academic Excellence Award was given to Shelby Brazell of Waynesboro who achieved the highest average and superior academic performance. The ceremony concluded with the traditional Lamp Lighting Ceremony which is a representation of the enlightenment of your mind. The traditional “Lamp Lighting” was inspired by the founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale who carried a lamp to find and help wounded soldiers during the Crimean War in 1854.

Practical Nursing Graduates December 2023

Layesha Brianna Bâ, Clarksdale                               

Brittany Michelle Barnes, Laurel                  

Madelyn Berry, Prentiss                    

Catie Booth, Heidelberg

Shelby Brazell, Waynesboro 

Jada Jamya Brinson, Prentiss                        

Kyra Nicole Brown, Indianola                                  

Kaila Ja’Maya Clemons, DeKalb                  

Emily Grace Edwards, Richton                                 

LaKirria Aaliyah Everett, Waynesboro                     

Adisyn Mae Gainey, Waynesboro                

Regenia Hamilton, Columbia                        

Mallorie Harris, Stringer                   

Shaqueria Polk-Harris, State Line

Bailey Holifield, Laurel                                

Laneshia Chanea Jackson, Laurel                 

Jermeneshia Jordan, State Line                     

Kaneshia Monique Kirk, Laurel                                

Taneshia LaSha Leverette, Waynesboro                   

Sidney Matthew, Moselle      

Haley McSwain, Petal           

Karli Rhyne Mills, Greene County                           

Abigail Grace Rigney, Buckatunna               

Emma Shepherd, Ellisville                           

Kendell Smith, Greene County                     

Rachel Ryuka Womack, Richton