An eruption of cheers and tears greeted 39 people who walked onto the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center stage Dec. 10. The din belied the elation borne of sacrifice by the Yavapai College Nursing Program graduates whose two years or more of training coincided with a global pandemic.

Dressed in blue scrubs, the future nurses representing both the spring and fall 2021 cohort and the Verde Valley and Prescott quad cities, smiled, waved and held back tears of their own as they listened to celebratory remarks, applauded class leaders, received their traditional graduation pins and recited in unison the Florence Nightingale pledge.

“Today is a very special day and marks the beginning of a brand new adventure. As if attending nursing school and clinicals during a global pandemic wasn’t enough of an adventure,” YC Nursing Professor Dr. Barbara Durham said, welcoming the graduates before describing in detail for the audience the unprecedented nature of their training. The challenges included practicing nursing skills on family members and even pets at home and vying for internet bandwidth with others in their households who also were studying or working from home.

Additionally, Durham said the warmth and fellowship that student nurses invariably experience was lost in pandemic-incduced separation. “Not being able to hug each other when someone is stressed, anxious or suffering… the face masks that hide smiling faces… we were missing basic human connections.”

Still, Durham told the graduates, “You doubled down on your motivation and determination to become a nurse and here you are today. I am proud of each of you. It has been an honor to be part of your educational journey. Go forth and do great things.”

YC President Dr. Lisa Rhine also expressed pride in the nursing graduates for their fortitude, diligence and sacrifice in uncertain times. “To say that it is a very difficult time to be a nurse is truly an understatement.” Rhine thanked the college’s latest nursing graduates for answering the call to nursing, she encouraged them to continue to build on what they’ve learned at YC, and she reminded them to practice self-care.

“Because of your kind and loving hearts that attracted you to this calling in the first place, make sure that you take the time to care for yourself and your own health and wellbeing. It’s only when you are at your best that you can perform at the highest levels and give your best to others.”

Following are the fall 2021 nursing graduates:

  • Abigal Adams
  • Kelli Balensky
  • Jennifer Bergstad
  • Rebecca Broderick
  • Alyssa Bugarin
  • Nick buller
  • Ronny Criswell
  • Klara Ford
  • Lanai Ford
  • Carl Jackson
  • Sarah Jackson
  • Shilee Jones
  • Laura Ludvick
  • Kacey Martinez
  • John Mattison
  • Angelique McKnight
  • Halleigh Milian
  • Anna Miller
  • Danielle Mitea
  • Chelsea Murphy
  • Anna Nardo
  • Corey Noeldner
  • Samantha Paine
  • Jinnapat Puangwipat
  • Kelly Pulanco
  • Emma Pundt
  • Aidan Raute
  • Alfredo Rodriguez
  • Amy Runo
  • Jennifer Santoyo
  • Aubrey Shaw
  • Brittney Sherman
  • Sarah Stickel
  • Alma Toribio Salgado
  • Dalis Townsend
  • Collina Young

Participating in the fall cohort pinning ceremony were these spring 2021 nursing graduates:

  • Maria Contereas
  • Nissa Labhart
  • Macer Svec