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Nurses celebrate after graduating from the Vermont Technical College nursing program on Friday in Bennington.

BENNINGTON >> Thanks to hard work, the support of their families and friends, and indomitable spirit, 16 graduates of Vermont Technical College's practical nursing program are now ready to take the next step in their careers.

Their accomplishments were celebrated at the college's Southwest Region Commencement at the Bennington Center for the Arts on Friday morning. The master of ceremonies was site director Anne Smeglin. The national anthem was performed by Morgan Renee Hall.

Smeglin introduced VTC president Daniel Smith, who recently announced that he would be stepping down from the position this summer. "It's been a great privledge to serve in this role for the last couple years," he said, "The college is on firm footing. I have to say that I couldn't be more proud and happy that the last official thing that I'll get to do as president is hand out the diplomas for this particular program. There's something that I think embodies what is great about Vermont Tech at its core, when you can travel to every corner of the state and congratulate people for their hard work."


"It gives me great pride to know that pretty much any time somebody walks into a hospital, or a clinic, or an agency, or a healthcare provider in any corner of the state, they're going to be hard pressed not to be cared for by a Vermont Tech graduate. I'm very, very proud of that, and of the hard work all of you have done, and I'm grateful to, in the last couple of years, to be a part of this enterprise. Thank you for that."

Smith also took a moment to thank Smeglin for her service, saying, "Thanks to Anne, for all that you've done over so many years for the program, and all of the heart you've put in."

The commencement speaker was faculty member Tracie Crawford. "Nursing is more than applying science and skills to practice," she said, "It requires more than the ability to accurately obtain vital signs and administer medication. Nursing requires a unique quality that encompasses and creates a nurturing environment and a trusting relationship that promotes healing and health. I have seen this unique quality in each and every student sitting here before me. I am so proud of each and every one of you."

The graduating class was comprised of Lindsay Brambley, of Arlington, Gabrielle Briggs of Rutland, Marianne Burnham, of Arlington, Hannah Caron of Eagle Bridge, N.Y., Nicholas Downing of Hoosick Falls, Andrew Elliott of Bennington, Cassidy Garrison of North Bennington, Alicia Gates of Bennington, Kelly Gochey of Marshfield, Vt., Michele Griffis of Sunderland, Josephine Hall of Hoosick Falls, Lisa Howard of Rutland, Meghan Muir of Wallingford, Vt., Rachel Olmstead of Bennington, Brittany Poulen of Whitingham, Vt., and Kailee Stemp of Pownal.

The graduate speech was delivered by Gochey, the class president. "Throughout the last 10 months, we have all relied on each other to get to where we are today," she said, "My hope is that each of us continues to be compassionate in our care as nurses. Some of us may enter the field, and some of us may be continuing with our education, but as a class, we have one thing in common. We made it."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.