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Four graduate nursing program at Bristol Bay Campus

Avery Lill/ KDLG

On Friday, four students graduated from the UAA nursing program at the Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham, bringing the total number of graduates to 10.

On Friday, the Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham held a pinning ceremony for their four students who completed their Associates of Applied Science in Nursing. Friends and family gathered on Friday to recognize Laurie Anderson, Susan Jenkins-Brito, Bronson Brito, as the nursing program’s most recent graduates. It’s a two year program offered in partnership with the University of Alaska. Campus director Deborah McLean spoke at the ceremony.

“This pinning ceremony serves as a symbolic welcome to our students into the nursing program,” she said. “This is the Bristol Bay Campus third graduation class in partnership with the University of Alaska Nursing, and we are very proud of the 10 local, homegrown registered nurses that we have graduated.”

Homegrown is a word that comes up a lot when staff speak about the program. The majority of the program’s previous graduates have stayed to practice nursing in the area. Nursing instructor, Michelle Korte says that is one of program’s strengths.

“It’s homegrown and keeping them here. I think without the program we would really be lacking in the nursing area but it really helps when you have the same people taking care of their people and just providing that care that’s needed.”

Korte explains that the program’s structure is different from most of its counterparts in the lower 48. Students video conference with the instructors in Anchorage once a week. Then the students complete their clinical around Dillingham, at the hospital and at places like Grandma’s House and the schools.

Sydnie Ewing is one of the graduates. She says this moment has been a long time in coming.

“It’s all a blur,” she says, shaking her head. “It’s like a head in the books blur. It’s so surreal right now that we’re even done.”

Ewing says that the program’s emphasis on public health is one that will stick with her as she goes forward in her nursing career.

When the students pass the National Council Licensure Examination for nursing, hopefully in January, they will be fully licensed nurses. At least three of the graduates plan to stay in Bristol Bay, according to Korte. So if all goes well, this spring they will be ready to take jobs in the community where they trained.

Credit Avery Lill/ KDLG
The graduates from left to right: Laurie 'Scharell' Anderson, Susan Jenkins-Brito, Bronson Brito, Sydney Ewing.