he graduating nursing class of 2024 poses outside the Blue Ridge Health Sciences Center. Photo by Rich Keen.

Blue Ridge Community College Honors 40 Graduates at May 8 Nurse Pinning Ceremony

Featured Photo: The graduating nursing class of 2024 poses outside the Blue Ridge Health Sciences Center. Photo by Rich Keen.


Marketing & Communications Dept.

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – On Wednesday, May 8, graduates of Blue Ridge Community College’s M.E. Oliphant School of Nursing gathered on the Henderson County Campus to celebrate their accomplishments at the ‘36th Annual School of Nursing Nurse Pinning Ceremony’ in memory of Renee Young. 

Director of Nursing Dr. Amy Szoka said the ceremony is a time-honored tradition which represents the completion of instruction and induction into the profession. This year, forty Blue Ridge students were pinned as part of this rite of passage into the nursing workforce.

Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood, president of Blue Ridge Community College, welcomed the graduates with a hopeful message about the importance of the nursing profession.

“If you ever want to be inspired, ask a nurse why they chose their profession, because choosing this work is, at its core, choosing something larger than one’s self,” she said. “Throughout our lifetimes, every person here today will receive care from the nurses in our communities. They are truly with us until the end.”

Graduate Miranda Hill gave a speech and shared what receiving the iconic pin meant for her and the nursing class of 2024.

“Our pins we will receive today represent more than just a badge; they symbolize our entry into a profession that demands integrity, resilience, and a deep sense of humanity,” she said. “They signify our commitment to making a difference in the lives of others, whether it’s holding a patient’s hand, offering a comforting word, or providing life-saving interventions.”

The ceremony honored the life and memory of Renee Young, whose family established a scholarship in her honor through Blue Ridge’s Educational Foundation. In late 2023, Mr. Paul Young donated $1M to support Blue Ridge’s work to educate nurses, which most recently covered the fees for a registered nurse exam review course for each graduate.

“May your gift result in hundreds – even thousands –  of caring, gentle, and compassionate nurses over the years serving our families here in Western North Carolina,” Dr.  Leatherwood said to Mr. Young from the podium.

This spring, Blue Ridge Community College is accepting applications through May 19 for the Fall 2024 nursing class. More information about the program is available online at www.blueridge.edu/nursing.

The following students received pins at the pinning ceremony:

Shannon Allison
Heather Anderson*
Jennifer Appollo
Caylee Ball
Allie Berglund
Cassidee Cali*
Stephanie Dunbar
Jessica Fisher
Megan Garren
Merry Chandlar Goins
Timothy Green
Alexander Greene*
Julia Greer
Lee Guidry
Rachel Heidbreder
Jennifer Helton
Ingrid Hernandez-Perez*
Miranda Hill*
Joseph Kanupp*
Oksana Kolodich
Hussein Mane*
Kerensa Mintz
Alyssa Moore
Brianna Mottershead
Mary “Ginny” Parham
Allison Parker*
Kaya Post
Jennifer Preston*
Rebecca Richards
David Rowe
Elizabeth Salitre Huapilla
Brittany Sellars
Lauren Sherrod*
Michael Spicer
Macii Stephenson-Pickett
Timothy Thew*
Casey Wayman
Preston Winters*
Karli Wood
Sara Woodward*

* Indicates enrollment in the WNC Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses Program (RIBN) with dual enrollment in the Western Carolina University School of Nursing.