NEWARK, NJ - Augustine Omwan first became interested in the nursing profession while working as a youth missionary in Nigeria.

“I clearly saw all the help these people needed,” said Omwan, now 42. The clincher for him to pursue a career as a nurse was when he needed a stent. “I saw all the caring the nurses provided me.”

On Jan. 10, Omwan began to turn that dream into a reality. He and 16 others of the Essex County College (ECC) Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Class of 2018 were recognized for completing their studies. The students receive pins to commemorate the event.   

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Omwan, of Orange, would also go on to become the 2018 class president, giving a speech to other students inside the Mary Burch Theater.

"We have come to the end of this phase,” Omwan said. “But remember, this is just the beginning as we continue to move along in our careers.” 

Students are still preparing for the National Council Licensure Examination for Licensed Practical Nurses, a requirement to earn a state license.  

“Right now we are looking at the future leaders of the nursing profession right here at Essex County College,” said ECC President Anthony Munroe. “You have taken just the first step in the profession of nursing.” 

Nursing Professor Dr. Evadne Harrison-Madu, said she once received care from the nurse who turned out to be a graduate of the college she teaches at now.

“When I asked where she received her education, she said ‘Essex County College.’ Now that made me extremely proud!”

Nacelia Kerr, another graduate from the Class of 2018, plans to continue in the college’s Nursing Associate degree program to become a registered nurse. She said her first choice is pediatric care.

“I started with the LPN program in order to get my foot into the profession,” said Kerr, who received an award for clinical excellence at the ceremony.

Suze Vertus, with a grade point average of 3.77, was the LPN class valedictorian. Gay Stephenson, with a 3.55 GPA, was class salutatorian and also the recipient of one of the Clinical Excellence awards.

Doris Ugwumadu received the Florence Nightingale Award while Omwan, the class president, was the recipient of the Leadership Award. Loretta Baker was presented with the Community Service Award and the award as the Most Improved Student.

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