Diplomas in Hand, Annenberg School of Nursing Graduates Join the Heroes Working on the Front Lines of Health Care
On July 23, the Los Angeles Jewish Home's Annenberg School of Nursing (ASN) hosted a very special and unique "drive-thru" commencement ceremony. The event—always joyful—held particular resonance this year, as 23 new vocational nurses, ASN's largest class ever, celebrated the determination and drive that kept them going even in the midst of the worst global pandemic in a century.
Social distancing and safety protocols made a more typical ceremony impossible but that did not stop the celebration. ASN developed a drive-thru version of the "procession" enabling the graduates' family members and close friends to be present for the occasion. Also on hand were Jewish Home CEO-President Molly Forrest, ASN Board President Shelly Steier, Director of ASN Amandeep Kaur and David Cooper, an instructor in the program.
As class president and valedictorian of the 2019 class, Kimberly Daley was one of the beneficiaries of ASN's cutting-edge curriculum. The remarks she prepared for the ceremony captured the sentiment shared by her fellow graduates. "I was given so many opportunities this past year thanks to being a student at ASN," she said. "The Jewish Home nurses, certified nursing assistants and other employees all taught me more than I could have learned anywhere else."
In addition to earning the title of valedictorian, Daley also distinguished herself as receiving the highest score on the rigorous ATI exam, which assesses a student's preparedness in entering health science fields. Other students receiving special honors included Denise McDonald, who graduated magna cum laude, Kyra Azalbarian, who graduated cum laude and Juan Garcia, who received the Florence Nightingale Award.
After handing the graduates their pins and diplomas, Kaur, Cooper, Steier and Forrest bumped elbows with the graduates as a congratulatory gesture—a coronavirus-friendly alternative to handshaking.
For Forrest, participating in the students' remarkable milestone was a highlight of the summer. "The Jewish Home has long prided itself on its commitment to career advancement for its employees by promoting education through our training and educational programs," she commented. "The Annenberg School of Nursing also provides a career ladder for those from the public looking to pursue and further their nursing opportunities, whether here at the Jewish Home or elsewhere. We are so proud of the school's leadership and the students' accomplishments, especially during these very unusual circumstances."
Since ASN's inception, approximately 50 percent of all graduates have gone on to work for the Jewish Home. It is a result, according to Kaur, ASN's director, of the respect students develop for the Home during their course of study.
"Our students build bonds of trust with the Home that last well beyond graduation," she says. "It's wonderful that so many of them come to work here after completing their degrees; it reinforces the feeling that, at the Home, we are all part of one extended family."