West Windsor, N.J. -- Barry Federovitch’s life was forever altered when his now 11-year-old son was diagnosed with autism. A sports journalist for 23 years, Federovitch says his son’s condition was a driving force behind his decision to return to the classroom to pursue his associate degree in Nursing. On Jan. 16, Federovitch, along with 48 of his classmates, celebrated at Mercer County Community College’s Nursing Pinning Ceremony, signaling an exciting new chapter for a diverse and dedicated group of students.
“My long-term goal is to continue on for my bachelor’s degree in Nursing and pursue research in the field of autism. I will take it as far as I can go. This is a culmination of my love for my son,” said Federovitch, a member of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society. Having earned his bachelor’s degree in English from The College of New Jersey in 1989, he credits MCCC’s “incredible professors” with helping him flourish as he studied a new discipline as a mid-life career changer.
Federovitch was not the only mid-career graduate. Joy Oriente noted that she had worked in healthcare previously, but had only set her sights on a nursing career in recent years. “I finally decided what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she said with a grin.
During the Pinning Ceremony, Dean of Science and Health Professions Linda Martin noted the competencies these graduates have mastered in their long, rigorous hours of study. “You are prepared to assess health statuses, analyze patient data, evaluate patient outcomes, advocate for patient rights, and collaborate with others,” she said. And, she observed that these grads are well prepared as they address their next challenge, the national certification exam, known as NCLEX, that most will take in the next 60 days.
MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue acknowledged both the graduates and the family members who have supported their efforts. “We know you will represent us well with your strength, your learning and your nurturing role as nurses,” she said.
In his words of congratulations, Dr. Guy Generals, vice president for Academic Affairs, said, “I honor you for choosing a noble profession where you will be able to commit your lives to helping others.”
Speaking to his classmates and their families in the packed theater was graduate David Kopsco, another career changer. He described his personal journey to graduation day. The former pharmaceutical research technician had once spent many hours working alone in the lab. He said he had a sense there was something more he could be doing to help others. When he got laid off, he turned to MCCC to join a helping profession.
In his remarks, Kopsco noted the sacrifices that he and his classmates have made to complete the program. “Everyone here has a story to tell. Many of us have at least one job, we have families, we have houses to maintain. The classes are intense. Now that classes are over, we are looking forward to the break of having only a 40-hour work week.”
His sense of commitment to the profession was clear. “The torch has been passed to us. Nursing is one of the most trusted professions. That trust has been forged by hundreds of thousands who have come before us. We will do our part as we carry that torch forward.”
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It's official! Introducing the Nursing Class of January 2013. Pictured far right is MCCC Dean of Science and Health Professions Linda Martin.