Accelerated program students celebrate working together, staring down coronavirus

Moments fly by, but photos stand forever (or as long as they’re posted). During Norwich University’s December graduation, a gaggle of nursing students celebrated by crowding together for a raucous group snapshot.

Seventeen of 60 December graduates completed the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, which lets students who already have a bachelor’s degree complete the BSN in 18 months. More than a dozen of these students were at the Dec. 2 dinner at the Capitol Hotel in Montpelier.

Elizabeth Haversang was in the group shot, and a few selfies with President Mark Anarumo and Interim Provost Dr. Stephen Fitzhugh. She said getting to graduation felt amazing.

“Making that human connection in person was really necessary to get through the rest of this program. You talk to people who know exactly what you’re going through.”Nina Lunn, Norwich University accelerated nursing program student

“Our program … was superintense and there was a lot of work, a lot of hours,” she said, adding that she balanced her schooling with family life and care of children, ages 3 and 5. “It was awesome; I really liked a lot of our program, even though a lot of it got bumped online (because of the pandemic).”

Nina Lunn, a fellow accelerated nursing program student originally from Madison, Connecticut, shared Haversang’s excitement at conquering hybrid study and staring down the coronavirus.

“Until midway through this last semester, we were all online … protected from COVID in the classroom, and then we go to our clinicals and we’re taking care of COVID patients,” said Lunn, who took rotations at the Central Vermont, University of Vermont and Dartmouth-Hitchcock medical centers.

december grads haversang min
From left, Interim Provost Stephen Fitzhugh, nursing student Elizabeth Haversang and President Mark Anarumo pose for a photo at the December graduation dinner at the Capitol Hotel in Montpelier, Vermont. (Photo by Mark Collier/Norwich University.)

Lunn and Haversang, who earned degrees before entering Norwich’s program, said they were glad for professors (especially Llynne Kiernan, who worked to get students in the simulation lab) and for one another. Once the students started to get vaccinated, they found ways to gather, chat and decompress.

“On Zoom and Microsoft teams, it’s class, we don’t get a lot of social time,” Haversang said.

Lunn added, “Making that human connection in person was really necessary to get through the rest of this program,” Lunn said. “You talk to people who know exactly what you’re going through. I can run up and be like, ‘Oh my god, my patient did X, Y, Z and it was terrible.’ Then I have five other people who are like, ‘Same thing happened to me.’”

The photo ops were an early Vermont sendoff for Haversang, who will move from Burlington to New Jersey in January to work at the New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton. She and Lunn promised to stay in touch.

“I found my people in this program,” Lunn said.

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