Friends and families of nearly 1,000 West Coast University graduates filled the Honda Center in Anaheim this May for the 2019 Commencement ceremony.
Grads from all WCU campuses in California and online programs put on their academic regalia in celebration of taking their next step in healthcare, either joining the ranks of nursing with a bachelor’s of science or advancing their education further with an advanced degree.
Oxford Honors Scholar and BSN grad Janellie Gomez said commencement meant she’s starting the next level of her career. Gomez already held a bachelor’s degree before enrolling at WCU-Orange County, but she had always dreamed of being a nurse.
Gomez said there were plenty of times where she thought about giving up, but her family helped her get over any doubts she had about herself.
“It can be so demanding and sometimes it can get intimidating, figuring out if this is what you're really going to do,” Gomez said, “but my family was always there supporting me, telling me 'You can do it. You know what you're doing, you just have to go for it.'”
Sheri Arnold was joined at the ceremony in Anaheim by her mom, her dad and her 3-month-old daughter. Arnold was celebrating earning her master of science in nurse education and proud to show her daughter that you can accomplish anything if you work hard.
“I was working full-time as a nursing director of surgical centers and it was a little challenging but I was able to navigate the hours, just working nights sometimes, but the master's degree was a solid program,” Arnold said. “It is very organized and so they made it easy for me to work it into my work schedule so I was able to do both.”
Now a two-time graduate of WCU, Arnold said earning her MSN after completing her BSN was a “no-brainer” because of how quickly and smoothly she was able to transition from being taught to now being a teacher.
“For anybody that is thinking about getting their master's degree or anybody thinking about getting their nursing degree in general, I always would just say: Don't stop -- if you feel like you want to, keep going because you are your only limitation. If you're even thinking about it, go for it. It's completely obtainable and West Coast University makes it easy.”
Terrivio Nevarez Merritt said he chose to enroll in WCU’s master of health administration online program because he liked the curriculum and the program’s flexible schedule.
“West Coast is a great university. There's never a moment where you feel alone. Luckily for me I had a great dean, I had great counselors, I had great professors to champion me on so you're never alone,” he said. “Today means for me that the struggle isn't over yet, but it's a lot better now. I'm well equipped now to go out into the real world.”
For WCU-Ontario BSN grad Adrian Robles, commencement represents the culmination of the last six years after getting out of the Marine Corps and choosing another calling of helping others. Besides earning his degree, Robles was also instrumental in helping found WCU’s first “Men in Nursing” chapter.
Robles said he always appreciated how much support his efforts and ideas received from the staff and faculty. But he’ll always remember, he said, how much his classmates’ belief in him meant.
“These people have become family because through stress, through all the papers that we've had to write, all the clinical rotations, all the loss that we've encountered in our rotations, we become family and stronger together and like a lifelong family,” Robles said. “It's something that truly is worthwhile to do and I'm glad that I was able to do it.”