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‘One step closer to your dream’ CWC nursing graduates look to the future

‘One step closer to your dream’ CWC nursing graduates look to the future

Pinned 2023 nursing graduates stood for a round of applause Thursday in the Peck Auditorium. (photo by Carl Cote)

Article courtesy of Riverton Ranger

May is National Nurses’ Month, and Central Wyoming College (CWC) has fittingly welcomed a new group of nurses into the profession this past week: The 2023 graduating class of its nursing program. 

“I chose nursing because I was looking for something that checked all of the boxes … I wanted something meaningful and fulfilling and that at the same time would allow me the lifestyle that I want,” remarked Lander resident and CWC nursing graduate Ben Crawford. “Nursing offers all of that, and there’s a lot of room for growth and progression throughout the field and I’m excited to see where it takes me.” 

Like Crawford, many people choose a career in medicine because they feel that they can make a meaningful difference in the lives of people around them; fellow graduate Morgan LaCourte described the impact that a nurse she met when a family member was hospitalized had on her. 

2023 Nursing graduate Morgan LaCourte was pinned by her sister Nicole during the pinning ceremony Thursday in Riverton. (photo by Carl Cote)

“I want to be able to give back to people who need help,” she said. “My sister was in the hospital once and she had an amazing nurse that made such a difference. After experiencing that, you want to become that person who can make a big difference for someone who needs care.”

Myriah Deckard feels that the program has set her up well to enter the workforce, helping her learn not just the necessary knowledge for nursing but also the practical skillset. “It’s academically challenging but also exhausting because there’s always more to do and work on,” she described. “That being said, I do feel like my time management and organization skills are now very honed and ready for whatever comes my way in the future. This program has been rigorous, to say the least, but I now feel better prepared to handle whatever comes next.”

Different nursing students have found themselves drawn to different career paths and different locations; while LaCourte has received a job offer at an intensive care unit in a University of Utah hospital, Crawford plans to work in a more local emergency department (ED).

“After nursing school I’m going to work in the ED at Sage West Lander,” he explained. “I love the fast-paced environment of the ED … You have to think really quickly and a couple of minutes can be the difference between someone living or dying. I think I really thrive in that kind of environment. [I’m] excited to learn as much as I can.”

CWC’s nursing program is typically highly regarded, as it is one of the top nursing programs in the region and was named the best in the state for 2023. Members of the Student Nursing Association (SNA) also organized an end-of-year gala this year, to help introduce sophomores to local employers as well as raise funds for a scholarship for students who need a little extra help to make attending CWC viable.

“The spaghetti dinner fundraiser had been an annual CWC nursing student tradition until COVID hit and they weren’t allowed to hold it for a couple of years,” explained Deckard, who was president of the SNA during the 2022-23 school year. “This allowed us to rebuild it into something new while also honoring the tradition. Together, [SNA Vice President] Rhonda [Whelan], Emily, and myself brainstormed and eventually created the idea of a fundraising and networking event that brings together all current CWC nursing students, local and regional agencies that want to hire nursing graduates, and the community that wants to support them.” All proceeds from the dinner go toward a scholarship for the CWC nursing program, she said. “The idea for the scholarship came about by wanting to give back and help fellow nursing students. Working while attending nursing school, especially the second year, is not possible for most, so the idea of helping provide more financial support was very appealing and just made sense.”

Whether they plan to work in Fremont County, another state, or go on to further their degree, CWC graduates can walk out of the college’s doors confident in the knowledge that they’ve already received one of the best nursing educations that the state of Wyoming has to offer. And the rising sophomores are ready to take the next step in that education, as well.

“The bittersweet end of our first year brings mourning of our mentors moving on and those students who will not be in the graduating class with you,” commented Rhonda Whelan, who will be the 2023-24 SNA president. “Nursing school is very taxing mentally and physically, and you are pushed to your limits … Through all the laughter and tears there is still nothing more fulfilling than knowing you are one step closer to your dream.”