First class at JSCC Pell City campus completes nursing program
by David Atchison
PELL CITY – It took two years of hard work and sacrifice, but Thursday a small group of students became the first to officially complete the nursing program at the Jefferson State Community College Pell City campus.

“It’s a great inaugural group,” said Dr. Cristy Daffron, the program coordinator for the nursing program at the Jefferson State Community College Pell City campus. “They have overcome a lot to be able to be here, a lot of sacrifices.”

Fifteen students completed the program. Thirteen graduating students attended Thursday’s Commemoration Ceremony at Jefferson State Community College campus in Pell City.

The classroom, where the ceremony was held, was filled with family and friends who gathered for the one-hour nursing commemoration ceremony.

“You look around this room, you see the faces of our motivation,” said Lauren Robison of Odenville, one of 13 students who participated in Thursday’s traditional pinning and lighting of the lamps ceremonies for the nurses. “There have been valleys and peaks, but now we stand on the mountain. We stand here with pride.”

The inaugural event attracted one former teacher.

Debbie Duke of Odenville said she would not have missed the nursing commemoration ceremony for anything.

“It’s a big day,” she said.

Duke, who is an educator in the nursing department at Samford University in Birmingham, taught the nursing graduates as a student-teacher during their first year in the nursing program.

“It was a very hard working class,” she said.

There were initially about 30 students selected for the program but only half of those selected finished the 2-year program.

“It’s a huge achievement, and they should be proud,” Daffron said.

Amber Brewster, 22, of Pell City, said she started her nursing training at the Jefferson State Community College Shelby campus, until the nursing program opened on the Pell City campus.

“It was definitely more convenient,” she said.

Brewster graduated with her 21-year-old sister, Ashley, who is currently an LPN at the Col. Robert L. Howard Veterans Home.

Ashley said she plans to remain at the veterans home but hopes to start working as a registered nurse there.

Amber said she plans to work at Princeton Hospital in Birmingham, where she completed her 90-day preceptor or hands-on medical training.

“I feel so excited, relieved,” Amber before Thursday’s pinning ceremony. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s been a long time coming.”

The class had four LPNs, who received their RN degrees Thursday, including Melanie Mason, who received her LPN certification through the duel enrollment program at Pell City High School.

Mason is the first student to complete the nursing program at the Pell City campus, who was also a recipient of a St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital Auxiliary scholarship.

Mason, who currently works at The Village at Cook Springs, wishes to one day work in an emergency room at a hospital.

Mason said she will take a year away from school but hopes to pursue her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

At the commemoration ceremony, Sequoia Kenyatta Thompson of Forestdale received the Florence Nightingale Award after being nominated by her classmates for the award.

Candice Goodwin of Springville, and Matthew McKinney of Ragland received Community Service Awards, after completing 100 hours of service, in addition to their normal studies.

Lindsay Anna Hicks of Moody was nominated by the faculty for the “Outstanding Nursing Student Award.”

Daffron said most of the nursing students who graduated from the Jefferson State Community College nursing program in Pell City will continue their education at four-year colleges.

“I can’t wait to see what they will do, what direction they will take,” Daffron said. “I know they will make Jefferson State Community College and Pell City proud.”

Contact David Atchison at

© 2013