TSC’s new nursing program inducts graduates into profession with ceremony

Thousands of miles, four flat tires and two windshields later, Alamo native Maricela Rosales has finally become the nurse she always aspired to be as one of the first graduates from the new Associate Degree in Nursing program at Texas Southmost College.

The 36-year-old, single mother and one of 10 in the inaugural class, celebrated this achievement with a pinning and candlelight ceremony on Friday to mark their official welcome into the nursing profession.

“I never thought I would get the chance to become the nurse I always wanted to be, but TSC changed that for me and I’m now on my way to a new career,” said Maricela. “It wasn’t always an easy journey, I missed a lot these last two years with my daughter and family, but I can officially say it was all worth it.”

Rosales, who is also the nursing class officer, addressed the graduates and their family and friends at the pinning ceremony that is described by TSC Associate Degree in Nursing Program Director Beth Kasprisin as the “rite of passage into the nursing profession.”

“We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and we’ve become family,” she told her fellow graduates. “We’ve had to adjust to so many changes during this time, yet we’ve prevailed, I know we can endure whatever comes our way and I’m so excited to see where all of this leads us as professional nurses. We will forever be the ‘Tenacious 10.’”

The Tenacious 10 nickname was given to the class by Valley Regional Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Frank Acevedo for their resiliency as nursing students during the pandemic.

Acevedo and Valley Regional Medical Center have played a huge role in the support and training of TSC’s nursing students.

Kasprisin said nursing school is no easy feat, especially during the COVID year, but she is proud of everything her first class has been able to accomplish despite the challenges.

“A pinning ceremony is an honor bestowed on our graduates that dates back to Florence Nightingale, the foundational philosopher of modern nursing,” said Kasprisin. “This is their induction into the profession and I’m so proud of everything they have endured to get here, including a pandemic. They are strong, resilient and amazing. They are going to be great nurses. I trust each of them with my life.”

The ceremony also included a pinning and candlelight ceremony led by Kasprisin and TSC nursing faculty, a faculty address by clinical instructor Ruby Byrd, a speech by guest speaker Acevedo and the presentation of the Clinical Excellence Award to TSC nursing student Norma Lozano.

Board of Trustee Chair Ruben Herrera and Alejandra Aldrete were also in attendance and said a few words.

Each nursing graduate still needs to pass their National Council Licensure Examination to receive their nursing licenses that will allow them to work, but Kasprisin said she has no doubts in their ability to pass this exam.

“All review and practice exams have been embedded in their curriculum and they have all excelled,” she said. “I can’t imagine being a nursing student during a pandemic, yet they have all handled it with such grace. Many of them aspire to go beyond registered nursing, some hope to become educators. I can’t wait to see who they become, but I know they’ll go far.”

As for Rosales, who shared her struggles of getting into nursing school, being a single mom balancing her daughter’s school with her own and working throughout a demanding program to support her family, she is excited to accept a position as a registered nurse in Valley Regional Medical Center’s medical surgical floor.

She is also working to become a certified medical surgical nurse through the hospital’s Specialty Training Apprenticeship for Registered Nurses (StarRN) program, with long-term goals of becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist.

“I’ve been a ball of emotions lately. I go from crying, because everything is so final, to all smiles because I’m officially done,” Rosales admits. “I’m headed into a new chapter in life for my daughter and me. We’ve struggled together and we’re going to make it together. We can both finally enjoy the reward of what I’ve been doing. And there’s no stopping us now.”

The application for the next TSC Registered Nursing cohort is now open through Sept. 1.

Visit TSC’s Associate Degree Nursing program to apply.