Students became healthcare professionals Wednesday night at the Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences graduation ceremony at the RiverCenter in Davenport.
The 2013 graduating class included 50 students of associates in radiography, respiratory care, nursing and bachelor of nursing. They were congratulated by Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences governing board chairman Dr. Benton Johnson.
"Your future success is not only your success, but your family's success and Trinity College of Nursing and Health Science's success," he told them.
Melissa Soliz, the bachelor in nursing valedictorian, encouraged her fellow graduates to be leaders.
"We are not finished," she said. "We will never be done learning. We are the next generation of healthcare leaders, providers and consumers.
"Take risks," Ms. Soliz told them. "Do not be afraid to fail. Find your passion."
Ms. Soliz shared that she returned to school after working for Mississippi Valley Surgery Center for more than 10 years.
"I love learning," she said. "All of the teachers I've had have been very wonderful."
Courtney Corelis and Stacey Decker received service awards. Ms. Decker, Yvonne Fillmore and Megan McCullough received leadership awards. And Kaitlin DeGrave and Erica McCleary received clinical excellence awards.
Charles McKnight also was nominated for a Distinguished Leadership in Health Care award for his decades of work.
"Relationships are the foundation of life," commencement speaker and president of the Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health Dr. David Deopere told the crowd."Everyday you will touch a life or a life will touch yours."
Erica McCleary encouraged her classmates to see the reward in helping others. Ms. McCleary received an associate of applied sciences degree in radiology.
"I believe the key to succeeding is self-confidence," she said in her valedictory address. "Give yourself credit on your hard work."
Trinity Alumni Association president Sara Neyens encouraged graduates to keep in touch and remember that, in their profession, they will never have to worry if they've made an impact on people's lives.
"There have been so many sleepless nights and discouraging days," said Sharon Whitney, valedictorian of associate of applied science in respiratory care. "But that's what makes this day so rewarding."
Ms. Whitney said she has been going to school for years and chose healthcare because of her own children's health problems.She said she hopes to move towards Chicago and work in a large hospital where she can help as many people as possible.
"This moment is just amazing to me," she said after Wednesday's commencement. "I just love it, all aspects of healthcare."
Graduate Amber Smith, who received an associate degree in respiratory care, said she hopes to find work in the Quad-Cities.
"I have all kinds of mixed emotions," she said. "I'll miss all the great people and all the classmates that helped me and encouraged me along the way."
Today is Monday, March 10, the 69th day of 2014. There are 296 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Numerous counterfeiters are around, taking advantage of the influx of currency to pass their worthless trash. 1889 -- 125 years ago: J.J. Reimers, secretary and treasurer of the Rock Island Lumber and Manufacturing Co., on behalf of that firm, contributed $500 toward construction of a new Methodist church. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Samuel Ryerson, county recorder, was re-elected president of the 19th District of Knights of Pythias. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Three condemnation suits have been filed by the city of Rock Island to acquire property needed for an approach to the Rock Island-Davenport bridge, which has been under construction since March 6. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Plans for an eight-story Sheraton Inn in downtown Rock Island were announced today at a luncheon meeting at the Gay Nineties sponsored by the Rock Island Chamber of Commerce. Cost of the structure is estimated at $2.5 million. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Representatives of the Hardee's Golf Classic and tournament sponsor Hardee's Food Systems may meet next week with PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman to discuss a possible change in the tournament dates.