WEST WINDSOR, NJ  – Mercer County Community College (MCCC) recently celebrated the graduation of 27 nursing students at the Winter 2020 Nursing Education Pinning Ceremony.  

The graduating class included three men and 24 women of various ages and backgrounds who shared the unique and noble calling to help others through nursing, college officials said.

“All 27 of you have completed a major milestone of a long journey to achieve your dream of being a nurse,” MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang told the graduates. “We celebrate you, your hard work, and your achievement.” 

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Hamiltonians who graduated in the class were Nelisha Bisono, Sarah Costello, Julia Degler, Shannon Kenny, David Kirkenir RN, Taylor Oakley, Kiersten Paul, Stephanie Pownall RN, and Monissia Roberts. In addition, Savannah Duarte RN is a resident of Robbinsville.  

Also hailing from parts of Mercer County in the graduating class were Trentonians Jennifer Colon, Kamila Grace, Wendy Hernandez, Olga Klenevskaya-Kluz, Mikaela Petitto, Paula Teuchert, and Peira Wood; Mei Li Cully of Princeton Junction; Lawrenceville residents Ewelina Godlewska RN, Penelope Hendrickson, Shantia Loving, and Dustin Cyprian Rodriguez; Kate Jenkins RN of Pennington; Jacqueline Mann RN of Plainsboro; Cynthia Nnebe and Emily Rivera both from Ewing; and Javedhusen Vahora RN of East Windsor.

Graduating students participating in the ceremony at Kelsey Theatre received their diploma as well as the time-honored pin that serves as a symbol of a nurse’s service to others. 

The graduates must also take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to receive registered nurse (RN) certification. Seven of the graduates have already passed the exam, which tests an individual’s ability to think critically about nursing scenarios.

In 2019, 95.95 percent of MCCC's nursing graduates passed the NCLEX-RN exam -- the third year in a row MCCC students have exceeded the national average.

Having already passed the exam, Hamilton's Stephanie Pownall has accepted a nursing position in the ER, ICU and Telemetry Unit of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

“I am very excited about my new position,” said Pownall. “The Mercer program prepared me clinically and for the NCLEX. I feel confident about being able to handle my position at Robert Wood.”

Class valedictorian, and Robbinsville resident, Savannah Duarte, who also successfully completed the NCLEX-RN exam, spoke to her colleagues about "simple acts of kindness” and shared her personal experience of initially doubting her abilities while in the program. She emphasized that through kindness each individual has an opportunity for powerful change and encouraged her colleagues to remember throughout their careers that small, day-to-day decisions do matter.

“I didn’t do so well on my first exam. It was after I had my daughter and I had taken time off. Professor Dunn helped me through that with a simple act of kindness," said Duarte.  “When it is 5 a.m. and you are tired and on your third shift, think about all the people who helped you get where you are today.  Pay it forward….with one patient, one small act of kindness at a time.” 

Six students were selected for special awards. In addition to Duarte, who earned the Academic Excellence Award, other awardees include: Pownall (Clinical Excellence), Jacqueline Mann (Professionalism), Kamila Grace (Caring), Shantia Loving (Perseverance) and Kate Jenkins (Teamwork).

Two students, Duarte and Kate Jenkins, were inducted into MCCC’s Epsilon Rho Chapter of Apha Delta Nu, the national nursing honor society, whose mission is to promote scholarship and academic excellence.

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