The end of 2015 marked the completion of the first respiratory therapist cohort from Cochise College. The group took its final steps as students this last December at the Cochise College graduation ceremony, and sixteen students crossed the stage as young professionals in the health care field.
“There are many things we do at colleges and universities over and over and over again, but one of the things that we don’t do again, is the first one,” said Cochise College President J.D. Rottweiler.
The ceremony was packed with families, friends, and fellow students to share an emotional moment of achievement with the graduates and to share one last, final goodbye to their alma mater. A long line of mentors stood by as each graduate received an honorary pin, signifying their successful completion of the program.
Jennifer Lakosil, dean of the Cochise College Allied Health Department, attended the ceremony. The dean initiated the concept for a Respiratory Therapist Program when she saw a need for one in Southeast Arizona.
Lakosil said, nostalgically, “After four years, I’m nervous; this was my baby, and it’s the first.”
Developing the program was a four-year process from the initial proposal. The accreditation took over two years. The Cochise College Respiratory Therapist Program successfully received accreditation in November 2013 from CoARC (the Commission for Accreditation Respiratory Care) and made way for its first cohort, the Class of 2015.
Program Director James Nosek spoke at the ceremony with tear-filled eyes. Nosek was invited to Cochise College in October 2012 to finish the initial accreditation application, which included an employment survey of the area, curriculum development, and a site visit to inspect the college’s facilities.
“I am very proud of each of the students,” James said. “[They were the] first cohort to graduate from the Respiratory Therapy Program. They have worked hard, and I see great possibilities for each of them in their future career.”
The class started its journey in January 2014. Since then the group has been a vital part of the college’s growing Allied Health Department and an additional service to the Cochise County health care community.
Student speaker Juan Escalonte, said, “This program helped us not just to become respiratory therapists but to become problem solvers, critical thinkers, and well-rounded healthcare professionals.”
Following this success, Cochise College is currently accepting new applicants for the January 2016 cohort, and as of December, thirteen students have enrolled for the upcoming semester. Watch the Respiratory Therapy Recognition here.