Paula Stevens
Susan Balestracci
SJR State holds nursing pinning ceremony

St. Johns River State College recently held a pinning ceremony to recognize students completing the College’s inaugural LPN Bridge to RN program. The program targets licensed practical nurses (LPNs) who want to take their education and skills to the next level by earning an Associate in Science in Nursing degree.

The pinning ceremony symbolizes the “rite of passage into the nursing profession,” said Anna Lebesch, Ed.D., SJR State’s vice president for workforce development and Orange Park campus executive director.  The pin is a reminder to the 15 graduates of their purpose to serve the sick and infirmed.

Students were pinned by family members.  Lebesch described the pinning ceremony as the symbol of the care and devotion nurses provide. The ceremony is also a continued tradition of Florence Nightingale’s extended honor to her most outstanding nurses.

Kindred Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Susan Drago, RN, addressed the graduates as the guest speaker. 

During the ceremony, Susan Balestracci received the Academic Excellence Award, and Paula Stevens received the Florence Nightingale Award for special achievement throughout the two-year program.    

Students from Clay County:    Angela Davis and Peggy Kibler.

Students from St. Johns County:  Gwendolyn Ferrare and Michelle Mackie.

Students from Putnam County:  Felicia Betterton, Kristal Goodwin, Paula Stevens and Syrhonda Wolfe.

Students from Duval County:  Donna Hayes, Tamika Mathews, Phara Metayer and Roxanne Short.
Students from other counties:  Susan Balestracci, Mary Dini and Laurie Houk.

SJR State’s nursing program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.  Classes are offered in Palatka and Orange Park.  Applications for the Fall 2016 nursing classes on the Orange Park and Palatka campuses will be accepted May 1-31.  Specific prerequisites and requirements apply and must be completed prior to the first day of the application period. 

SJR State offers additional health programs such as respiratory care, nursing assistant, health information technology and radiologic technology. For more information on degree and certificate programs in the health field, call (386) 312-4176.



Nursing students enrolled in the LPN Bridge to RN program:

Front row, left to right:   Kristal Goodwin, Donna Hayes, Mary Dini, Michelle Mackie, Tamika Mathews, Felicia Betterton, Laurie Houk

Back row, left to right:  Peggy Kibler, Syrhonda Wolfe, Angela Davis, Roxanne Short, Paula Stevens, Phara Metayer, Gwendolyn Ferrare, Susan Balestracci


In addition to the ceremony, select students received awards for special achievement throughout the two-year program.  Paula Stevens received the Florence Nightingale Award.   

Susan Balestracci received the Academic Excellence Award for achievement throughout the two-year program.