By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Edgecombe Community College had its first recognition ceremony for health occupations students Wednesday afternoon in the Keihin Auditorium.
Since the college’s health occupations division was established in 2011, nearly 500 students have completed the programs. About 75 students in four different courses of study – Nurse Aide I, Nurse Aide II, Medication Aide and Phlebotomy – attended the ceremony.
“The pursuit of greatness” was the theme of health occupations instructor Trishonda Roberson’s speech.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned is desiring and striving to be great,” Roberson said. “You have to say to yourself every day, ‘I have a purpose, I have a destiny, I am great.’”
Roberson encouraged the graduates not to let “past,” “perception” and “people” stand in the way of their pursuit of greatness.
“No more of life grabbing hold of you but you grabbing hold of life,” Roberson said. “Think big…Don’t ever stop learning.”
Roberson earned her LPN at ECC nine years ago, and she is currently pursuing a higher education – a master’s of divinity degree at Southeastern Seminary.
“I’ve been where you are today,” Roberson told the graduates, and she wasn’t the only instructor on the stage that could make that claim.
“Every single person up here is a graduate of ECC’s nursing program,” said health occupations program coordinator Laura Clark.
One of the graduates recognized during Wednesday’s ceremony, 28-year-old Edith Thompson of Rocky Mount, said her ECC instructors inspired her to take the next step in her education.
“You’ve got friendly teachers that care about you. You’ve got teachers that want to see you strive. You have teachers that push you for greatness,” Thompson said.
The working mother of two received a framed certificate for her completion of three different programs, Nurse Aide I, Nurse Aide II and Medication Aide. After wrapping up 375 hours of training at ECC later this month, she plans to go back to school to pursue her LPN and RN degrees, with the goal of working in a hospital setting.
“I like to help people. This is a way you can give back to the community,” Thompson said.
Students like Thompson earning “stackable” health occupations credentials are more marketable in the labor force, Clark said.
ECC’s President Dr. Deborah Lamm told the graduates that health occupations in North Carolina have increased by 46 percent in the last 10 years, while the economy overall has increased by only 3 percent.
“With the state’s aging population, the healthcare job market continues to look bright,” Lamm said.
With the growth in the healthcare job market in mind, Lamm made the decision on June 30, 2011, to expand ECC’s health occupations program beyond Nurse Aide I and Nurse Aide II. Since then, the program has grown from 125 students to 250, said ECC’s Associate Vice President of Instruction Lynn Cale.
“I would characterize this as being a home-run decision,” Cale said.