First class of practical nurses graduates

Penn State Hazleton marked the first class of graduates from the new practical nursing program on Fri., Dec. 2 at a ceremony in the Evelyn Graham Academic Building. Fourteen students completed the requirements to earn a certificate in practical nursing and will be eligible sit for the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).

The inaugural class began their studies in June 2010 for the 18-month noncredit program offered in the evening and on weekends in the newly renovated 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.

Chancellor Gary Lawler presided over the ceremony, along with Practical Nursing Program Coordinator Patrice Rimbey and Interim Director of Faculty Affairs Thomas Smialek. Betty Corcoran, president of the Penn State Hazleton Council, the campus advisory board, extended congratulations from the council. Guest speaker was Roxanne Downs, R.N., B.S.N., director of Adult Day Services at Blue Mountain Health System and instructor in the Penn State Hazleton Practical Nursing program.  

During the ceremony, graduates were presented with a certificate and Penn State Hazleton pin to represent the educational institution.

Graduates were Kaylee Beishline, Sugarloaf; Jamie Douglas, Weatherly; Aleshia Hatch, West Hazleton; Ruth Hatch, West Hazleton; Cynthia Howe, Nescopeck; Rebecca Kennedy, Bloomsburg; Krystal Lombardo, Shenandoah Heights; Danielle Owler, Quakertown; Akilah Parker, Wilkes-Barre; Michelle Saldukas, Shenandoah; Pamela Scarano, Mountaintop; Vicki Stanton, Hazleton; Judy Veron, Coaldale; and Gina Vuocola, Nescopeck.

Awards were presented to several graduates. Awards and winners included:

  • The Excellence in Clinical Practice Award, which recognizes the nursing student who best displays a high regard for clinical care and clinical aptitude, was presented to Danielle Owler and Gina Vuocola.
  • The Academic Achievement Award for the highest overall grade-point average was presented to Michelle Saldukas.
  • The Award for Leadership, which honors outstanding leadership and professionalism during the nursing education process, was presented to Judy Veron.
  • The Most Compassionate Award, which is presented to the student who displays exceptional emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy for others, was given to Pam Scarano.
  • The Community Service Award, for student who displays the initiative to reach out to those in need within the community, was presented to Ruth Hatch.

Following the recitation of the Florence Nightingale Pledge by the Class of 2011 and members of the nursing community, Michelle Saldukas addressed fellow graduates, family and instructors, thanking them all for their support and encouragement.