Top nursing graduates change careers, win awards
A former restaurant manager, certified nurse and two stay-at-home moms demonstrated it’s never too late to pursue your dreams as they received awards for excellence in nursing during College of the Mainland’s associate degree nursing program pinning ceremony. Nursing professors selected the four students, who returned to school after several years’ absence, for their outstanding leadership, scholarship and clinical performance.
“We had a fantastic group. This year it was really hard to choose,” said professor Jennifer Higgs, who was one of the instructors selecting students for the awards. “The outstanding students are involved in other organizations and leadership.”
A third-generation nurse with her mother and grandmother working in the field, Brittany Davis, of Webster, received the award for student of the year for the June 2013 class. Davis was interested in medicine from an early age and despite the challenges of juggling school and her responsibilities as a wife and mother of a 3-year-old, she knows her efforts were worth it.
“I made up my mind that this is what I’m going to do, and I put in 110 percent. It paid off,” she said. “I set a goal, and I met that goal.”
Receiving the student of the year award for the May 2013 class, Wesley Kuykendall came to the nursing field after exploring several careers. While working as a restaurant manager, he knew it was time for a change. After being out of school for seven years, adjusting to classes and exams was a challenge.
“I attended almost all the tutoring sessions. I had a really good relationship with my teachers. They were always ready to help,” said Kuykendall.
A former preschool teacher, Kuykendall plans to pursue a career in pediatric nursing. The specialty will unite his love for children and service and is one he got to explore during a clinical at Texas Children’s Hospital.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with children,” he said. “Nursing’s very rewarding, just the feeling that you get to help people.”
Winning the outstanding student clinical performance award for the June 2013 class, Veronica Veit currently works at San Jacinto Methodist in Baytown as a certified nurse assistant. Her childhood dream was to be in the medical field.
“Since I was little I wanted to be a doctor and then I realized that nurses were the ones who spent most of the time with patients. I wanted that interaction,” she said. “I remember nurses when my brother and sister were born and that was like 10 years ago. You always have a lasting impression on your patients.”
In the last two years she’s worked, studied and helped her family in a difficult time.
“All of the teachers (have) an open door policy,” Veit said. “I couldn’t have gotten through this year without them.”
Nursing program director Gay Reeves agreed.
“COM nursing students are the best, and they are very appreciative of their nursing faculty and tutors’ efforts to assist them in being successful in the nursing program. COM nursing programs have outstanding and dedicated faculty committed to assisting every student to be successful in the program and meet their goal to become a nurse,” said Reeves.
Receiving the award for outstanding student clinical performance for the May 2013 class, Rachel Bolton, of Santa Fe, first came to COM to become a licensed vocational nurse after a divorce necessitated that she return to work after fifteen years as a stay-at-home mom. She feels the licensed vocational nursing professors’ thorough, hands-on instruction helped prepared her for the rigors of the Associate Degree Nursing Program.
“They’re tough, but they’re great. It was a good foundation. I went in a little more confident,” she said.
Her 18-year-old daughter Kayla McBroom, a student in COM’s Collegiate High School, graduated with her Associate of Arts on the same day that her mother graduated with her associate degree in nursing.
“(My kids) have been my inspiration. It was a good day. Some of us older ones have waited a long time,” Bolton said. “I’m ready to get out there and work.”