Class of 2017 told to ‘stay in the driver’s seat’ at Spring Commencement

Newest Associate Degree Nursing graduates also recognized in separate Pinning Ceremony

Lee College 10 a.m. Graduation ceremony
Lee College recognized more than 630 graduates at the 2017 Spring Commencement held Saturday, May 13, 2017, in the Sports Arena on campus. Sisters Tina Pennington and Mandy Williams, better known as “Red” and “Black,” delivered the keynote address and encouraged graduates to face their fears, polish their soft skills and remain strong and driven in pursuing their dreams.

BAYTOWN, TX — As a capacity crowd packed with family, friends and supporters cheered and applauded from the audience, more than 630 Lee College graduates were recognized for earning associate degrees and certificates of completion at the 2017 Spring Commencement ceremonies.

“You cannot imagine how proud we are,” Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown told the graduates. “As you move forward, know that this is not the end of your journey; it is the beginning. It’s the time where you think about your next steps, and I would also ask you to remember those that will follow you. You have blazed a trail. Thank you for what you’ve accomplished, and for what you’ve done for those that will follow you because of the successes you have earned.”

In their keynote address to the Class of 2017 – which included nearly two dozen IMPACT Early College High School students receiving their associate degrees before their high school diplomas – sisters, authors, educators and entrepreneurs Tina Pennington and Mandy Williams encouraged the graduates to remember that some of the greatest blessings in life can come from confronting the most difficult and challenging situations. Pennington and Williams, better known as “Red” and “Black” respectively, learned that lesson firsthand after Red’s husband was fired from his job and she turned to her sister for help mastering the family’s finances. Black, who earned an MBA in International Finance from New York University and London Business School before retiring from the oil and gas industry at just 40 years old, assured the nervous Red – a Theater Arts graduate at Wake Forest University who became a full-time wife and mother and was initially intimidated by financial terminology like “assets and liabilities” – that the job loss and subsequent processes of learning about personal finance and rebuilding her life would be the best thing to ever happen to her.

The frank and candid messages the sisters exchanged during Red’s period of crisis formed the basis of their national bestseller, “What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!” which features practical guidance and advice about achieving financial health and a richer, more satisfying life. Initially launched by Neiman Marcus, the book has since been adapted into an educational program at KIPP Houston High School and incorporated into book study programs at more than 30 percent of Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison units. Along with financial literacy, Red and Black also emphasize the need for soft skills like critical thinking, problem solving, communication and teamwork.

“Once I started doing personal finance, realized the importance of the soft skills I already had and just stopped to think about things, I realized she was right,” Red told the Lee College graduates. “It really was the best thing for me – but more than that, it was the best thing for my daughters, and to be able to talk with students like yourselves and others we come across.”

As the first woman to race the road course at Indianapolis, Black used racing analogies to present the graduates with an essential life choice: being a passenger who lets life control them, or being a driver who controls their own life. Remember the important corners on the track that require a steady hand, and keep the fun of the curves in perspective of the bigger picture, she said. Most of all, stay in the driver’s seat instead of simply coasting along.

“Think of all the times you could have quit, all the excuses you could have made, but you kept going. You’re here today and you’ve proved that you are strong and driven,” Black said. “None of us know where our lives are going to take us. Take a deep breath, hold on to the steering wheel and throttle on.”

2017 Associate Degree Nursing Pinning Ceremony

Lee College Nurse Pinning ceremony
Lee College welcomed the 60 newest graduates of the Associate Degree Nursing program into the nursing profession at the annual Pinning Ceremony held Friday, May 12, 2017, in the Sports Arena on campus. Each graduate received a pin to signify completion of their Lee College journey and entry into the next phase of their lives and careers.

The 60 newest graduates of the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program received pins to signify completion of their Lee College journey at the annual Pinning Ceremony, where they were also welcomed into the nursing profession and charged to devote themselves to the welfare of the patients that will soon be committed to their care.

ADN faculty presented individual awards to students who displayed academic and clinical excellence and best represented the unique spirit of nursing, before calling each student to the stage one by one to be recognized. As a special twist this year, graduates were given the option of having a registered nurse of their choice join Director of Nursing Tracy Allen to congratulate them and affix the coveted metal pins to their starched, white uniforms.

Graduates then lined up to receive the symbolic light of knowledge from their instructors, passing the live flame from one ceramic lamp to the next and reciting the Florence Nightingale Pledge taken by all professional nurses.

Citing a quote from former Pres. Teddy Roosevelt about the importance of striving for success and staying in the arena despite failures and shortcomings, Allen praised the graduates for their consistent effort to complete the rigorous program and prove their knowledge and mastery of the important skills and abilities they need to be effective nurses. The nursing pins they earned at Lee College will become one of their most prized possessions as they continue into the next phase of their lives and careers, she said.

“You are well prepared and ready to enter the workforce in the greatest profession in the world,” Allen said. “Congratulations — we are all very proud of you.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

ADN program honors 73 grads at pinning ceremony

BAYTOWN, TX — More than 70 new Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) graduates were recognized for their achievements and welcomed into the nursing profession this month at the annual pinning ceremony, which marks the culmination of their Lee College journey and entry into the next phase of their careers.

Lee College 2016 Nurse Pinning Ceremony
Lee College 2016 Nurse Pinning Ceremony

“It is very hard to sum up every quality that makes a great nurse; that list would be endless,” said Tracy Allen, director of the nursing program and a Lee College alumna. “Hard work, dedication to patient care, incredible spirit and passion for excellence drive nurses every day to participate in the healthcare of patients and families across the globe. You are prepared, you have done the work and the connection you have made with Lee College and the nursing program will be forever ingrained in who you are and who you become as a professional.”

The Lee College nursing program emphasizes practical experience that prepares students for the realities of a clinical setting. From their first semester, students are required to spend time in both traditional classes and the laboratory and hands-on clinical environment. They are also encouraged to become lifelong learners and continue their education beyond the associate degree, following the example of several Nursing Division faculty members who are pursuing doctoral and master’s degrees in the field.

“As faculty, our goal is to challenge the students to think independently, provide feedback for improvement and nurture great ideas and successes,” said Roy Barefield, an Associate Degree Nursing instructor who delivered a heartfelt and personal salute to the Class of 2016. “You have met those challenges, you met the bar as we raised it higher and higher, and you proved that if you prepare and believe in yourself, you can achieve your goal and your dream. We rejoice in all you have done.”

At the pinning ceremony, faculty members called graduates to the stage one by one to affix the coveted metal pin to the chests of their starched, white uniforms. Graduates then lined up in two rows to receive the light of knowledge from their instructors, passing the live flame from one ceramic lamp to the next before reciting the Florence Nightingale Pledge taken by all professional nurses.

“We congratulate you on finishing a very rigorous curriculum,” said Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “Every one of you knows that it’s difficult, and we understand why is has to be so rigorous: You’re going to become a licensed registered nurse. You have the opportunity to work at hospitals, clinical sites, doctor’s offices, public health units and in many different settings. I know how well-trained you are, and I know your patients will be in good hands.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

In attached photo: The Lee College Associate Degree Nursing program graduates received pins and recognition Friday, May 13, 2016, to welcome them into their new profession. The annual pinning ceremony marks the culmination of their Lee College journey and entry into the next phase of their nursing careers.

Fast-track healthcare programs prepare students for careers in 6-9 weeks

BAYTOWN, TX – As an instructor for the Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) course offered by the Lee College Center for Workforce and Community Development, Valencia Davis draws on decades of experience to prepare students to launch a new and rewarding healthcare career in 6 short weeks.

Her real-world insights make class content more relevant to students — all of whom have successfully passed the state CNA certification exam after completing the program, enabling them to work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other facilities.

“The CNA course is really the entry level for the nursing field,” said Davis, a licensed vocational nurse who continues to practice while teaching at Lee College. “We focus on the fundamentals, like learning about body systems, how to obtain vital signs and how to assist someone who has lost the physical ability to do basic things for themselves. If you want to be exposed to the nursing career, this is a great way to start.”

The Lee College workforce center is now enrolling students in CNA and other non-credit programs that provide a fast track to careers in the growing healthcare industry. Registration is also open for Certified Medical Assistant, which begins this month, and Dental Assisting and Phlebotomy, which will begin in March. Dates are being finalized for the Electrocardiogram (EKG) Technician program and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program, pending state approval.

Programs are available in both traditional and online formats, and take just 6-9 weeks to complete. Additional information about costs, requirements and curricula is available via the Center for Workforce and Community Development at 281.425.6311 or www.lee.edu/workforce.

Davis finds that many students she encounters are attracted to the healthcare industry for the same reason that motivated her to pursue nursing: the desire to make a difference in the lives of others by helping them maintain their dignity, morale and positivity despite illness or disability.

“I love the enthusiasm of the students,” Davis said. “Many finish the CNA course and want to advance their education and careers even further. It opens up a world they hadn’t thought about and that, to me, speaks volumes.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

All invited to Nursing meeting

The Lee College Nursing Division will host a site review this month for continuing accreditation of its Associate Degree Nursing program, and members of the public are invited to meet with the team from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) during their visit to campus.

The ACEN is the national agency responsible for ensuring that nursing education programs meet and properly apply standards and criteria for educational quality. Programs that successfully earn accreditation have shown they have clear and appropriate objectives they are working to achieve on behalf of the students and communities they serve. The Associate Degree Nursing program at Lee College has held ACEN accreditation since 1986, and was last re-evaluated by the agency in 2010.

ACEN site visitors will meet with the public at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 30, in Room E-06 of the McNulty-Haddick Building on campus.

Those interested in sharing comments with the ACEN team can also submit them in writing to Dr. Marsal Stoll, Chief Executive Officer, via email to mstoll@acenursing.org, or postal mail to 3343 Peachetree Road NE, Suite 850, Atlanta, GA 30326. All written comments must be received by Sunday, Sept. 20.

For more information about the ACEN site visit or continuing accreditation of the Associate Degree Nursing Program at Lee College, contact Tracy Allen, Director of Nursing, at 281.425.6541.

VN graduates receive pins

Vocational Nursing graduate Brittaney Sandefur (center) receives her American Red Cross pin from Donald Sanford (left) as Tracy Allen, Director of Nursing (right), prepares to add the Lee College pin to Sandefur’s lapel and her classmates look on. The Class of Summer 2015, honored at an Aug. 5 ceremony at the Performing Arts Center on campus, included 22 new vocational nurses. Vocational Nursing graduate Brittaney Sandefur (center) receives her American Red Cross pin from Donald Sanford (left) as Tracy Allen, Director of Nursing (right), prepares to add the Lee College pin to Sandefur’s lapel and her classmates look on. The Class of Summer 2015, honored at an Aug. 5 ceremony at the Performing Arts Center on campus, included 22 new vocational nurses.

Lee College honored this month the 22 newest graduates of its Vocational Nursing (VN) Program in a special ceremony at the Performing Arts Center, where they were presented with the coveted pins and red-striped nurses’ caps emblematic of their new careers.

“This ceremony really represents the completion of our program and a welcome for these nurses into the profession,” said Tracy Allen, director of Nursing, who affixed the trademark Lee College pins to the starched white lapels of each graduate as they walked across the stage.

Graduates at the ceremony received their diplomas from lead VN instructor Nora James, and striped caps from faculty member Gary Carter. Many were also presented an additional pin from the American Red Cross, which was represented at the ceremony by Donald Sanford of the Greater Houston chapter.

Each graduate also carried a candle, which was lit with the single flame held by faculty member Mary Victory in a symbolic passing of the torch. Candles in hand, the new nurses recited the Vocational Nursing Pledge in front of their family, friends and loved ones.

“Never think of this is the end; this is the beginning,” Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown told the Class of Summer 2015, noting the rigor of the program and the considerable effort it takes to successfully complete it. “Every milestone is just the start of something bigger and better to come in your lives. We couldn’t be more proud of what you have accomplished.”

The VN program at Lee College, accredited by the Texas Board of Nursing, prepares students for the national licensing examination and performance of safe nursing care in a variety of clinical settings and situations. Applications for admission are accepted between February 1 and April 1. For more information about the program curriculum and candidate requirements, contact the Department of Nursing at 281.425.6229 or visit leecollegeonline.com/nursing.