TULSA, Okla. — 32 Langston-Tulsa nursing students graduate Thursday night at 7 p.m., but the very virus they’re going to fight has forced them to change their celebration.
The plan was originally to do a drive-through pinning ceremony, to keep alive a tradition that has been around since the 1860s. But in the interest of being cautious, the graduation ceremony went virtual.
“I feel like it’s still not going to be the same thing, but my family will be closer and that’s ultimately what got me through and helped me to complete the journey,” said graduate Shi'Quelá Roberson.
Roberson is the first in her family to earn a bachelor's degree, and the first to become a nurse.
She and her fellow students are going into the nursing field to join front-line medical workers in their fight against COVID-19. To those workers, they say, "backup is coming".
"Knowing that you’re going into an industry where you’re going to have an impact, COVID can’t touch that,” Roberson said.
Fellow student Anesha Debose says the past semester has been filled with anxiety, but neither virtual classes nor an invisible threat have taken any student's eyes off their end goal.
"When you have a passion for what you want to do, whether it be women’s health, mental health, it doesn’t stop you," Debose said. "COVID doesn’t stop you. If anything it’s going to push you more because you want to be there for the patients during this time.”
The faculty who saw them through say there isn’t a group better suited to take on the pandemic than this class of Langston-Tulsa graduates.
"They have reacted with such resilience and such bravery," said Brooke Baker, "and I think that speaks to their strength. They have an internal strength that’s unmatched by any students I’ve seen.”
Roberson and Debose both thank God, their families, friends, and supporters as they graduate.
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