A new class of 20 Practical Nursing students walked across the stage to receive their diplomas from Penn State Berks at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8. The ceremony was held in the Perkins Student Center Auditorium.
The class is a diverse and multi-talented pool of individuals. The graduating class included 19 female and one male student. While their stories may be different, they all share one common denominator: caring about people.
Marcia Cook-Love, nursing faculty member with Penn State Berks and The Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences, provided the keynote address. Cook-Love earned an associate degree from Reading Community College, a bachelor of science in nursing from Kutztown University, and a master’s degree in nursing from University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She served in the U.S. Army Reserve Nurse Corps as a Major from 1987-2010. She holds a Certificate in Nursing Education, and she has worked for many years as an educator at St. Luke's School of Nursing in Bethlehem (2002-05), The Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences (2005 to present), and the Penn State Practical Nursing program. In addition, Cook-Love is a certified psychiatric nurse.
Practical Nursing student Mary Ellen Stringer also gave an inspirational address during the ceremony, which focused on the trials, tribulations, successes, and camaraderie of 18 months of nursing school.
Academic awards were presented to several of the graduates. Tiffany Reinhart was named class valedictorian and Kim Haraske was named salutatorian. The Chancellor’s Leadership Award was presented to Mary Ellen Stringer, the Excellence in Clinical Practice Award to Jocelyn Papay, and the Spirit of Continuing Education Award to Tiffany Bechtel, who overcame numerous hardships to attain her nursing education goals.
The college, in partnership with The Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences, launched the part-time evening and weekend Practical Nursing Program in January 2009. The program is unique from other nursing programs in Berks County because it is the only one in which participants do not have to give up their day jobs: they attend class three evenings a week, as well as every other weekend, and achieve their dream of becoming a nurse in just eighteen months.
The State Board of Nursing approved the Penn State Berks Practical Nursing Program as a satellite of the Penn State Lehigh Valley Practical Nursing Program. Upon completion of the program, students will be able to take the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN) for state licensure. Graduate students interested in continuing toward their Registered Nursing diploma may be able to challenge courses at The Reading Hospital's School of Nursing for advanced placement.
For additional information on the Penn State Berks Practical Nursing Program, contact Louise S. Frantz, coordinator of practical nursing, at 610-396-6493 or via email at [email protected].