West Windsor, N.J. – Area residents seeking medical services can be assured that they are in good hands. On July 15, Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) Health Professions Division celebrated degree completion for 65 new healthcare professionals during a pinning ceremony at Kelsey Theatre. Serving as emcee was Elizabeth Mizerek, MCCC Director of Nursing Education.
With faculty members, administrators, family and friends looking on, graduates from the Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT), Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) and Radiography programs were recognized for their dedication and hard work in pursuit of their degrees. They were encouraged to continue to learn and grow in their professions and remain dedicated to compassionate care for each and every patient.
“This is a major milestone in your journey to becoming an essential part of the healthcare team,” MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang said. “Each of your specialties will contribute expertise and caring to an aging population. This is truly a moment to celebrate and cherish.”
Dr. Robert Schreyer, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, added his congratulations. “You have established a baseline for your career. But a career in healthcare is a commitment to lifelong learning. Continue the mindset you developed at Mercer. Always strive to be your best and make a positive impact on patients and all those around you,” he said.
Mizerek noted that pinning ceremonies for Nursing students have been a tradition at the college for decades, but this was the first time Mercer hosted a ceremony for other Health Profession programs. “This interdisciplinary ceremony is just like the healthcare field,” she said. “We all work together, sharing our knowledge to best serve patients.”
The graduates clearly relished the opportunity to bask in the moment. Student speakers from each of the programs spoke of the challenges they and their classmates faced during their studies and the sense of accomplishment they now enjoy.
MLT student speaker Carolyn Vasquez recalled, “Some of my classmates are working full time. Some of them have kids they need to support. We are all at different stages of our lives but the one thing we have in common is the motivation to better ourselves. That same motivation has led us to where we are today."
Jessica Wewers, the speaker for the PTA program, shared her sense of relief as she recalled the rigorous PTA curriculum and the perseverance that she and her classmates applied to their studies. “It was a 14-month roller coaster,” she said of the final intensive phase of the program, which included a demanding clinical component. “There were assignments, tests and more tests. We were all in battle together. And we got through this program together.”
Radiography graduate Bonnie Danner shared that she had been looking for a career change and was drawn to the Radiography program for its structured and comprehensive curriculum. “I made the right decision. My instructors and my classmates are positive and genuine people,” she said, adding that she hoped her classmates would continue to be the bright light for patients that they were for her.
The take-away message from all three speakers was that this group of graduates can proceed to the workforce with confidence. “We found that we can do hard things. We proved we can do this,” Wewers said. They repeatedly acknowledged and thanked the Mercer faculty for its dedication to their success and for the example of excellence instructors set in the classroom.
The final step for these graduates is to take a required national exam before they proceed to the clinical setting. Many have already taken their exam and have secured jobs in clinical settings throughout Mercer County and beyond.
Professor Sandra Kerr, Coordinator of the Radiography Program, noted how rewarding it was for faculty members to watch these graduates begin to assume their place in the healthcare workforce. “We expect that you will seek additional certifications and other training for advancement, and even consider being a clinical instructor one day, just like the ones who taught you," she said.
Coordinators for the other programs are Lisa Shave (MLT) and Holly Kaiser (PTA).