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 Tuesday, Dec. 10, the 344th day of 2013. There are 21 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: We give "the government" the benefit of our circulation free of charge, for two advertisements for mules, horses and forage. 1888 -- 125 years ago: The official board of the First Methodist Church voted to build a new church. 1913 -- 100 years ago: W.A. Reid was elected commander of Siboney Bay Camp No. 8, United Spanish War Veterans. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Mrs. Blanche S. Osborne, of Rock Island, is the only woman in the city who is a member of the American Legion. 1963 -- 50 years ago: The Rocket Barbershop Chorus, under the direction of Howard Mesecher, will present a concert of barbershop songs at the December meeting of the Woman's Club of Moline at 2 Saturday afternoon in Scottish Rite Cathedral. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Helen A. Stone, of Moline, traded her organ's bench for a seat in the pew when she retired as church organist of Union Congregational Church, Moline, recently. She's been playing either piano or organ for the church for 61 years.