Penn State Hazleton holds graduation ceremony for practical nurses

Graduates of Penn State Hazleton's practical nursing program marked the successful completion of the program during a ceremony on Thursday, January 8 in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium in the Physical Education Building. Twenty-two students completed the requirements to earn a certificate in practical nursing and will be eligible to test for the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).

The class began their studies in July 2013 for the 18-month program offered in the evening and on weekends in the classroom and laboratory in the lower level of the Slusser/Bayzick Building. Students took classes at Penn State Hazleton and attended clinical studies at area partner facilities. 

Director of Academic Affairs Elizabeth Wright presided over the ceremony along with Associate Director of Continuing Education Debra Conway and Practical Nursing Program Coordinator Karen A. Lightcap.

Guest speaker for the event was Patrice M. Rimbey, A.S., A.D.N., B.S.N., M.S.N., who served as the first coordinator of Penn State Hazleton's practical nursing program from 2010 to 2013. She was instrumental in planning the program curriculum and facilities; hiring classroom and clinical instructors; obtaining clinical sites for students to gain the required practical experience; and recruiting, instructing and advising students. Rimbey also worked with the State Board of Nursing to secure approvals for the new program and to ensure program compliance.

During her more than 20 years of experience in healthcare, she has been a medical laboratory technician, nurse, educator and administrator. Currently, she is the operations manager of the Same-Day Surgery Center at Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre, a campus of Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, where her responsibilities include directing the activities of the nursing staff, managing budgets, hiring new personnel and developing quality assurance studies.

A Penn State Hazleton alumna, Rimbey earned an associate degree in Medical Laboratory Technology. She went on to earn an associate degree in nursing from Luzerne County Community College and a bachelor's degree and master's degree in nursing from Wilkes University, where she is currently pursuing a doctoral degree. 

In the community, Rimbey has served on the board of directors of the American Red Cross Hazleton Chapter since 2012.

During the ceremony, graduates received their certificates and pins to signify successful completion of the program.

Graduates and their hometowns were Mallory C. Blasavage, Wapwallopen; Peter B. Calarco, Hazleton; Rebecca J. Frey, Nescopeck; Ann K. Fuchs, West Hazleton; Lacey N. Garrison, Nescopeck; Stacy A. Gonzalez, Jim Thorpe; Keledy J. Hidalgo, Hazleton; Stephanie L. Kishbaugh, Mifflinville; Hillary A. Lynch, Exeter; Megan L. Major, Zion Grove; Carol A. McCue, Effort; Karla M. Oriach, Hazleton; Tracy L. Patton, Monroe Township; Corey A. Pronio, Lost Creek; Tracy M. Rhyder, Jim Thorpe; Michele A. Rodriguez, Wilkes-Barre; Roxanne Y. Sabia, Hazle Township; Nicole M. Sarosky, Hazleton; Kellyn M. Schlauch, Oneida; Nicole A. Smith, Summit Hill; Rose M. Ulicny, Shenandoah; and Tonya R. Werley, Coaldale.

Several members of the graduating class also earned special recognition with an award. The awards and winners included:

- Excellence in Clinical Practice, an award presented to the nursing student who best displays a high regard for clinical care and clinical aptitude. Instructor in practical nursing Laura Jones presented this award to Kellyn M. Schlauch.

- Academic Achievement, which is presented to the student earning the highest overall grade-point average. Instructor in practical nursing Denise Kelly presented this award to Rose M. Ulicny.
- Award for Leadership and Professionalism, which recognizes outstanding leadership and professionalism during the nursing education process. Instructor in practical nursing Joann Famalette presented this award to Keledy J. Hildalgo. 

- Most Compassionate, an award presented to the student who displays exceptional emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy for others. Instructor in practical nursing Lori Reiner presented this award to Carol A. McCue.

- Community Service, which is presented to the student who displays the initiative to reach out to those in need within the community. Instructor in practical nursing Andrea McAloose presented this award to Mallory C. Blasavage.

- Commitment to Nursing Education, an award to recognize the student who is a wonderful example of perseverance and determination. This student has overcome life's obstacles and remained committed while pursuing their nursing education. Instructor in Practical Nursing Roxanne Downs presented the award to Tracy L. Patton.


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