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 Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.