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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Tears of Joy for First Graduates of SJVC Bakersfield’s New Vocational Nursing Program

June 16, 2022

Friday, May 13th was a very “lucky” day for the very first graduating class of the new Vocational Nursing program at SJVC Bakersfield.


Each graduate’s journey to becoming a licensed vocational nurse began in January 2021 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of students faced hardships in other unforeseen ways from struggling to maintain their studies while losing close family members to other health issues. Before the pinning ceremony began there was a moment of silence for those who had been lost.


There were tears through the laughter, smiles, and hugs. Perhaps it was the hard work that each Vocational Nursing student did to get there that brought the tears, or perhaps it was the realization that friends who helped each other through it will soon be going their separate ways.


Or, maybe they were surprised at how connected they felt to the traditions in the ceremony that began with Florence Nightingale in 1880 which are still practiced today in every nursing graduation ceremony – the candle lighting, the pledge said together, and the moment they are pinned. They are now connected to a history of thousands, a sisterhood and brotherhood in the many nursing programs everywhere that bonds them for life to the noble work of caring for others.


“It was humbling to see the pride on graduate faces as they held their nursing lamps aloft and recited the Florence Nightingale oath,” said Dr. Sherry L. Mitchell, Academic Dean at the Bakersfield campus. “Just as striking was the joy on the faces of family members who had supported their loved ones as they went through the program. We are proud of these graduates and confident they will make wonderful contributions to the field of nursing.”


History was made that day, and history was also behind them, supporting them, inspiring them to go forth as the first graduating class, to start a new tradition on the Bakersfield campus. Ultimately, tears of joy.

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