The School of Nursing honored 97 R.N. to B.S.N students, as well as 36 Bachelor of Science in Nursing students, during its pinning ceremony. The Division of Allied Health Sciences recognized 17 Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Technology and 10 Associate of Science in Radiography graduates.
Marion residents Michael and Shelly Backs were among the R.N. to B.S.N. graduates who received their pins, in a ceremony in Havens Auditorium. As they crossed the stage, a little voice called out, "I love you, Grandma and Grandpa," from the audience.
The couple earned associate degrees in nursing when their daughters were toddlers, and then returned to complete their bachelor's degree in the last year. They were thrilled to have their family with them for the big moment.
"This is such an accomplishment for us," Mike Backs said. "Going back to school has really revved up our brains." Shelly Backs said her husband was initially reluctant to return to school, but now they are glad to have this experience together.
"It's been wonderful," she said. "We could not have asked for a better experience."
For Suzan Ferguson, Kokomo, graduation is the realization of a long-held dream.
"I always wanted to be a nurse, but life took me in a different direction," she said. Ferguson went back to school when her son, Joshua, reached middle school, to prepare to reenter the workforce. She previously earned an associate degree and took a job at IU Health Tipton Hospital, where she worked while completing the R.N. to B.S.N. program.
"I'm relieved, and excited to have reached this goal," she said. "IU Kokomo was a great place to get my degree, and I will wear my pin proudly."
The nursing students chose Joyce Hollingsworth, lecturer in nursing, as their speaker. She recalled her own graduation from IU Kokomo, and the pride she and her mother, also a nurse, felt on that day. She encouraged the graduates to represent nurses and IU Kokomo in the best way possible.
"They're compassionate and knowledgeable, and they're going to go out in the world and make it a better place, and take care of you and me," she said. "Stay true to yourself, and if you do, happiness and success will follow you your whole career."
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke congratulated the graduates. She noted than in Indiana, only 19 percent of people have a college degree.
"You are one of the few who have spent the time and the effort to reach this goal. It will open all kinds of doors for you," she said. "Your studies have helped you become the person you are, and the person you are going to be."
Patricia Davis, clinical liaison, honored the allied health graduates, which included the 10th graduating class from the associate degree program.
"The transformation we have seen in each of you is amazing," she said. "It is with great pride that we welcome all of you as professional peers."
Courtney Perez, Kokomo, had plenty to celebrate – not only did she earn an Associate of Science in Radiography degree, but she received a job offer this week.
"It doesn't feel real yet," she said. "I appreciate being able to earn this degree in such a great program, close to home. With the small class sizes, you get to know your classmates. That makes it really personal."
She plans to return to campus to earn a Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Technology.
David Brinkley, Kokomo, also plans to return for the bachelor's degree program.
"It feels good to have this part of it behind me," he said about the associate degree program. "Now I just have to pass my certification test, which is the day after graduation, and then look for a job. This has been a great program."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.