The other completion ceremonies

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. RottweilerMay brings an abundance of student success ceremonies. There are so many, in fact, that it’s easy for some of the more intimate and special celebrations to get lost in the festivities.

Around the time of Cochise College commencement, the college’s most celebrated event, it also hosted a ceremony honoring 24 new medical assistants, another recognizing 50 new certified nursing assistants, and another in honor of students who completed licensed practical nurse and registered nurse training. In the coming week, we’ll also recognize 39 individuals who have earned the GED since last year.

Though it’s understandable that not all ceremonies receive public attention, especially during “graduation season,” it’s no less inspiring and motivating for those of us who attend these events and reflect on the accomplishments of students.

The nursing ceremonies, in particular, draw crowds that rival those at commencement. That notice is merited in part because of the demand those rigorous programs place on students. The time nursing students put into school requires their families and friends to help provide support for a myriad of things, including financing, management of both school and home, childcare, reliable vehicles and more. There simply isn’t that much time for things to go wrong in the life of a nursing student.

The program’s reputation for excellence, too, deserves attention. Though it’s not an online curriculum, it was recently named the top two-year nursing program in Arizona by the Community for Accredited Online Schools. In addition, Jennifer Lakosil, the dean who oversees nursing and health sciences, was recently honored as a Fabulous 50 Nurse by the Tucson Nurses Week Foundation. In the near future, faculty and staff plan a curriculum reorganization that will include a licensed practical nursing (LPN) program for students who wish to pursue only that level of credential, a separate registered nursing (RN) program that will focus on students whose goal is a two-year degree, and an LPN-to-RN program that will serve as a bridge for LPNs who wish to pursue an RN.

In the coming week, teachers and administrators will attend another of their favorite events of the year. The GED ceremony celebrates students who, for a myriad of reasons, did not earn a high school diploma in the traditional way. It wasn’t that long ago that English language learners in the program self-published the book “Our Stories: The Dream Makers.” This year, in addition to honoring those courageous individuals who have completed the GED, the Cochise College Foundation will award Aida Estellean Wick Scholarships to students transitioning to college-level courses.

As I remind Cochise College graduates each year, commencement is not the end of a journey, but a point of departure for the next phase of life. The same is true for those earning a GED or completing healthcare training programs. On behalf of the Cochise College Governing Board, faculty, staff and administration, I wish all of our completers much success.
J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at