The NRI Institute of Health Sciences graduated 26 students in its associate of science in nursing (registered nurse) program on Saturday, Jan. 12 in ceremonies held in the center court of the original Wellington Mall. All the nursing graduates are now eligible to take the NCLEX examination for licensure as registered nurses in the United States.
NRI, based in Royal Palm Beach, offers degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography and registered nursing. The degrees were conferred in a formal ceremony highlighted by a number of guest speakers. Dan Splain, NRI’s chief administrative officer, served as master of ceremonies for the program.
The invocation was pronounced by Pastor Michael Rose, and Royal Palm Beach Mayor Fred Pinto congratulated the graduates and commended them for their perseverance and tenacity in completing the program. Other dignitaries on hand to honor the graduates included RPB Councilman Jeff Hmara, former RPB Education Board Chair Lynn Balch and retired emergency department physician and RPB Rotary Club leader Dr. Sharada Ram Bhandary.
Three of the graduating nurses — Jude Blanchard, Shivaynee Singh and Brian Bastos — delivered short speeches highlighting their experiences as nursing students.
The commencement speaker was Lorna Kernizan, chief operating officer at Palms West Hospital. Kernizan has been COO at Palms West for almost four years and has been a healthcare administrator for 30 years. She shared with the graduates that her mother was a nurse and a fantastic role model due to her caring and compassionate approach to nursing.
Kernizan urged the graduates to remember that the patients they will interact with are at extremely vulnerable times in their lives. She encouraged the new nurses to use all the technology available to them to aid a patient, but reminded them that what patients remember most is kind and compassionate care on a person-to-person basis.
Degrees were conferred by Elizabeth Stolkowski, president of the school, who serves as nursing program director. Family members pinned the nurses with the pin that is emblematic of their profession.
A posthumous degree was awarded to the late Devi Sookdeo Singh, who tragically died in an automobile accident during her studies. She was a class leader and role model for other students. Her daughter Shivaynee is a member of the graduating class as well.
Dr. Joseph Kloba, retired provost of Palm Beach Atlantic University, delivered the benediction and shared anecdotes with the new nurses from his own health scare last year.
The NRI Institute was founded in Royal Palm Beach in 2013 and merged with the Ultrasound Medical Institute in 2015 to increase healthcare educational opportunities for Palm Beach County residents. The school is licensed by the Commission on Independent Education of the State of Florida and the Florida Board of Nursing, and it is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education.
For more info., call (561) 688-5112 or visit www.nriinstitute.edu.