BROWNWOOD – May 6, 2021 – Five students from the Howard Payne University School of Nursing are prepared to become the first graduates from the university’s nursing program. The first graduating class includes Adrien Barrientos of Lewisville; Hanna Crow of Brownwood; Josie McClung of Brownwood; Ashley Strong of Brownwood; and Kira Teel of San Antonio.
The students will be presented with their degrees at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, during the second of HPU’s two Commencement ceremonies that day, both of which will be held in Mims Auditorium.
“I’ve seen growth in the self-confidence of this group,” said Dr. Nina Ouimette, dean of the School of Nursing. “I’ve also seen them grow in what they thought the role of a nurse was, to now, understanding what the professional role is.”
Dr. Laci Sutton, professor of nursing, said the first graduating class will continue to have an impact on future nursing students at HPU.
“I think back to my own time in nursing school when I walked back to the halls and the pictures of past graduating classes,” she said. “We would stop at the first one in awe – they were the beginning of this. To think that we have the opportunity to have an impact on this very first class is a great honor. They set the footprints of the whole program.”
Students in the program have also had an impact in the community through their service and training. Most recently, HPU School of Nursing students and faculty members worked to provide vaccines under the direction of the Brownwood/Brown County Health Department and Hendrick Medical Center Brownwood in a collaborative effort between first responders. The students have also received ombudsman training to serve as advocates for nursing home residents, received certification to conduct vision and hearing screenings in schools, and conducted a flu vaccination clinic.
The key element of the nursing program at HPU is a faith-based approach, with service being a natural outcome of this emphasis.
“As faculty, we try to model service to others and caring hearts,” said Dr. Ouimette. “So, by us ministering to students in mind, body and spirit, then we feel like students can go out and minister to others. We believe in equal care for all. So, when it comes down to servant love, centered around God, our students have that desire to care for anyone.”
In addition to curriculum and program emphases, community partners have had an important role in the students’ training. Support from Hendrick Health, the Brown County Health Department, Creative Solutions in Healthcare and Center for Life Resources has helped provide opportunities to serve the community and to train alongside local healthcare professionals.
“We want to continue or strengthen our relationships with community partners,” said Dr. Ouimette. “That is a big vision – we want to continue to show our connection to the community through these partners.”
The Texas Board of Nursing reaffirmed program approval for the baccalaureate nursing program at HPU in 2020. The program can seat 70 students and is one of the fastest-growing areas of academic interest at HPU.
Cutline: Five students will become the first graduates from HPU’s School of Nursing on Saturday, May 8, at HPU’s Commencement ceremony. Pictured are Adrian Barrientos of Lewisville; Hanna Crow of Brownwood; Ashley Strong of Brownwood; Kira Teel of San Antonio; and Josie McClung of Brownwood.