Eleven Graduate From E2CCB School Of Practical Nursing Program At Cassadaga Job Corps

Pictured, in front: Ray’Quan Brooks, Kimberly Ryczko, and Domario Scott; in back: Karina Peralta Cadena, Joselin Sanchez Guarneros, Alinadaya Legrand, Shateka Knight, Kiana Davis, Roshawne Brown, Erica Coston, Christina Karabut, and instructor Brooke Hnatyszyn.

CASSADAGA — A group of 11 students recently celebrated the completion of their 12-month Licensed Practical Nursing program. Local residents and students from across the country trained through the Erie 2-Chautauaqua-Cattaraugus BOCES School of Practical Nursing at Cassadaga Job Corps. Friends and family joined staff and faculty at the LoGuidice Educational Center in Fredonia to commemorate the hard work and countless hours students devoted to the program.

The ceremony opened with remarks by Janeil Rey, Ph.D., director of workforce development, who recognized the role of audience members in helping the students make it through the program. “It’s a rigorous, challenging curriculum,” according to Rey. “Not everyone makes it through successfully… And I think that says a lot about the people sitting before you. That they persevered, they persisted and they succeeded. In large part, that’s because of the support you gave them.”

Guest speaker Sylvester Cleary, an E2CCB board member, gave the keynote address. He outlined different areas the students should grow in to be successful in their professional careers, as well as life in general. “You must continue to push yourself forward,” he urged. “Stay focused. And whatever you do, spread a little love in the process. Because you are in the love business, the healing business.”

During the valedictorian speech, Karina Peralta Cadena highlighted the obstacles she and her classmates overcame. “About 12 months ago, a group of strangers sat together in a room eager and ready to start the program, unaware of the challenges that were to come,” she reflected. “In spite of our struggles, we still lent a hand to each other and pulled ourselves out of deep holes. We laughed and cried together… But that’s the beauty of overcoming these challenges, because challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

There was a tie for the title of salutatorian. Domario Scott and Erica Coston both came forward to accept the award. Afterward, a slideshow was presented. The photos and videos gave a light-hearted glimpse into the time students spent together studying, training and bonding as classmates and friends.

The program can see students spending many hours away from home. For some, home may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Gratitude for the support provided by loved ones was a recurring theme throughout the ceremony.

“This is for the mom who hugs us through the phone,” said student Shateka Knight reading from a poem she had written. “This is for that’s dad’s warm tone. This is for the visits home. This is for the sister’s encouragement, and this is for that aunt’s experience. This is for grandma’s love, and this is for baby brother hugs. This is for the motivation. This is for telling us we can, even when it feels like we can’t. This is for you.”

After receiving their diplomas and reciting the Nurse’s Pledge, the program closed with comments from Ann Anderson, Academy Director for Cassadaga Job Corps. She shared the admiration and respect she has for the students and their profession. She also reminded the students to prepare for the next step in their journey to become nurses: the licensure exam.

“‘You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.’ And you have met that challenge this semester. (You’ve) got one more piece with the NCLEX (exam), and you need that strength. Let’s just see how strong you are to prepare and pass that NCLEX.”

This was the 17th graduation for the E2CCB School of Practical Nursing. The partnership with Cassadaga Job Corps has seen over 200 graduates complete the program and advance their careers. E2CCB provides instruction, skill development and clinical experiences, while Job Corps provides financial assistance to eligible students, training support and job placement services.

For more information about the LPN program at Cassadaga Job Corps, contact the admissions office at 595-4200 or visit cassadaga.jobcorps.gov.