Noelle Carpenter, from Florence, a conscientious sophomore nursing student, was finally getting some real-world experience doing ‘clinics’ at St. Mary’s Hospital in Langhorne, Pennsylvania in 2020.
That’s when an email came in from his school, the College of New Jersey, saying they would be closing for the week after spring break due to an outbreak of something called a novel coronavirus.
“So we would have been done for two weeks, but then we were supposed to come back,” she recalls.
The ensuing COVID pandemic, which has now claimed the lives of 1 million people in the United States alone, has turned the world upside down and disrupted the routines of students – none more than those who study and work in the profession. of health.
Distance learning became the norm and when the clinics came back there were fewer of them. “It (COVID) has definitely had a lot of clinical impact and learning,” Carpenter said, “But I love that we still persevered.
Carpenter is one of 1,832 undergraduates and 344 graduates graduating during two days of commencement ceremonies at TCNJ this week.
“You are survivors of zoomland and the pandemic…. You haven’t seen the COVID headlines, you’ve lived them,” Carole Kenner, dean of the TCNJ School of Nursing, Health and Exercise Sciences, told the students.
“Although this is not how we would have liked you to apply your knowledge in the classroom, you have learned that you have the skills necessary to be successful in your chosen career path.”
Carpenter agreed. “It (the pandemic) kind of helped me because it made me stand up for myself even more,” she said, “because when I was walking around with the nurses instead of saying: “Oh, I’m just going to look, I was like, ‘Can I give this baby an injection? Can I help you check this mom? Can I do this? Can I do that?'”
TCNJ President Kathryn Foster acknowledged the difficulty faced by the Class of 2022, calling them “my class” because she began her tenure at TCNJ when they were freshmen in 2018.
“We grew up together during a remarkable four-year period in our lives, the life of this college and the history of the world,” she said. “I am so grateful for your company and your inspiration.”
Carpenter’s studies and her work thus far in nursing have shown her that the emergency setting is where she can do the most good. “I will be needed no matter what,” she said, “and I want to be there for those people in their worst times and be their light, or be that support for them.”
The fact that she graduated with honors even under these unprecedented conditions demonstrates that Carpenter is not discouraged by unforeseen challenges, a quality that will serve her well in the work she expects of her in the service of emergencies of Penn MedicinePrinceton Medical Center.
Carpenter and all of his fellow graduates overcame daunting odds to complete their nursing, health or exercise science education in the midst of a pandemic and prepare to enter the workforce.
The mortar that Carpenter carried at the start testifies to the courage required. It was Star Wars themed and included a quote from Han Solo in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ when he dangerously – but successfully – flew his ship straight into an asteroid belt to avoid being capture. “Never tell me the odds.”
TCNJ’s School of Nursing, Health and Exercise Sciences started the two-day 2022 Departmental start at TCNJ on Thursday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Last is for all students receiving their master’s degree on Friday, May 20, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. EST.
All events are streamed live and can be viewed here.
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Michael Mancuso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org