Southwestern Michigan College celebrates 17 new nursing graduates

Southwestern Michigan College's spring 2024 nursing class. (Courtesy photo)

On Wednesday, May 1, 17 new nurses received their associate degrees in nursing from Southwestern Michigan College (SMC). The class joins the ranks of 3,202 SMC nursing graduates.

The federal government projects that about 203,000 new nursing positions will be created each year through 2031. The median age of a registered nurse currently working in the field is 46, with more than a quarter of those reporting they plan on leaving nursing or retiring in the next five years.

“I think you all, including your loved ones, can agree that you all have gone through a large amount of growth,” Assistant Professor Haley Smith, a 2016 SMC graduate from Dowagiac, said as she addressed the class.

“I’ve seen growth in knowledge and in confidence in a number of you firsthand. You’ve all changed significantly. After today, when I run into you in hospital settings, I will again get to appreciate the amount of progress you’ve made from this point until whenever it is I see you again.”

In his welcome, President Joe Odenwald noted his two grandmothers were both nurses. “Back in those days, you lived in the hospital. You worked eight hours a day on the floor, you studied eight hours a day and the other eight hours, you slept. It was a three-year commitment.”

Odenwald said nursing provided financial stability for the family’s farm and helped support the family’s lifestyle. He said he is proud of the graduates, and he is confident they will make a difference in their communities.

“If there is any program that is our brand, it’s this one because everybody needs health care coming in or going out,” he said. “Your families know it’s not easy to get through nursing school.”

Graduates include: Sarah Bodo, Paw Paw; Michaela Bogue, St. Joseph; Ciara Centamore, Bristol, Ind.; Taylor Hulett, Cassopolis; Shelby Jaynes, Niles; Stephanie Jean-Philippe, Berrien Springs; Alexis Kanyuh, Roseville, Ind.; Morgan Labis, St. Joseph; Ashley Minnick, Niles; Jenna Mullen, Buchanan; Nikola Nate, Niles; Ruth Nyambane, Berrien Springs; Victoria Pearey, South Bend; Alejandro Reyes, Goshen; Kristine Schumacher, Elkhart; Enir Seidel, St. Joseph; and Terrance Smith, Paw Paw.