Nursing students graduate at BOCES

Oswego County BOCES Practical Nursing instructor Margaret Palmer (right) presents a pin and diploma to student Jennifer Lavallee during a program graduation ceremony Thursday (June 26) in Fulton.
Oswego County BOCES Practical Nursing instructor Margaret Palmer (right) presents a pin and diploma to student Jennifer Lavallee during a program graduation ceremony Thursday (June 26) in Fulton.

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

After 40 weeks of classroom training and hands-on learning, 26 Oswego County BOCES Practical Nursing program students earned their diplomas Thursday (June 26) and are preparing to embark on medical careers in the near future. 

The nearly 1,200-hour adult education course prepares students to work as a practical nurse in such places as home care agencies, nursing homes, physicians’ offices, hospitals and health care clinics. 

Paul Gugel, director of Adult and Migrant Education at Oswego County BOCES, said sacrifices students and their families made during the course of the program is a testament to the selfless nature of each graduate. 

“This group has been dedicated and accomplished, and I know you’ll do great things,” he said, noting that graduation is the first step in the process. Next up, Gugel said, is obtaining licensure and securing a job in the field.

With the intensive learning in the classroom and the work experience at local medical facilities, Gugel and Oswego County BOCES Board of Education President John Shelmidine both said the graduates are now well equipped to be competitive on a global scale. 

“They have demonstrated that they’re second to none in their skills and proficiency,” Shelmidine said. “You could not have chosen a more rewarding field. Nursing is the glue holding the medical profession together.”

As a further testament to the success of the Oswego County BOCES Practical Nursing program, Kelly Hess (a 2013 program graduate employed at a dermatologist’s office) spoke of her own success. 

“I am aware of the sacrifices that it requires to complete this program, but it’s worth every long night,” she said. “Don’t accept the first job offer that you are given … find one you love. A job is out there for you.”

Following the keynote and student addresses, practical nursing faculty members presented graduates with their pins and diplomas and they took the practical nursing pledge.

In addition to the pinning ceremony, faculty members also presented several special awards. 

Class valedictorian Matthew Sprague and salutatorian Amanda Putnam each earned recognition for their academic accomplishments. 

Jenna Montieth was honored with a certificate for perfect attendance, Jennifer Lavallee earned the Resilience Award, Amanda Midlar received the Instructors’ Award for showing the most growth and potential in the nursing profession, and nine graduates were inducted into the National Technical Honor Society: Sprague, Putnam, Patrick Dean, Dana Larson, Ashley Sidman, Jan Donovan, Ashley Phillips, Angelina Stupp and Hope Wiggins.

While the graduates were the primary focus of the ceremony, retiring practical nursing faculty member Margaret Palmer also was honored for her dedication to the program. 

BOCES Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Mark LaFountain said Palmer defines professionalism. 

“I personally want to thank you for the level of professionalism you have brought to the Adult Education Department for the past five years. You’re a first-class act,” he said.

For more information about the Practical Nursing program or other opportunities catered to adult learners who have been displaced, are considering a career change and/or are interested in re-entering the workforce, contact the Adult Education Department at 963-4256 or visit

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