Alcorn’s School of Nursing will graduate its inaugural Doctor of Nursing Practice class during Saturday’s Commencement

The year 2021 will go down in Alcorn State University’s history books as one of the most significant years in University history.

President Felecia M. Nave broke barriers with her historic President’s Inauguration. The University is on the heels of celebrating 150 years of excellence during the upcoming Sesquicentennial celebrations.

And now, Alcorn is graduating its first-ever doctoral class.

Six family nurse practitioners will become the Cora S. Balmat School of Nursing’s inaugural Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) class during the University’s Commencement Exercise Saturday, May 8. All six of the graduates received a master’s degree in nursing from the University.

Becoming the first students to earn doctorates from the School is a monumental feat for the new doctors. Kayana Bradley feels proud to complete her education at a school that she highly regards.

“Earning a doctorate from Alcorn’s School of Nursing is honorific,” said Bradley. “Alcorn State University is a renowned HBCU. The recognition for excellence in nursing is nationwide. It speaks volumes to graduate in the first class of doctorates from Alcorn. We are trendsetters.”

The DNP program provided Leondrea Collins a quality experience that she will always appreciate. She applauds the program for giving her expert knowledge that she will use to ascend higher in her career.

“My experience was rewarding,” said Collins. “I gained so much knowledge during the program that has allowed me to become an expert in my field of nursing practice. Every task assigned was essential to my advancement as a well-prepared nurse practitioner.”

The establishment of the DNP program is a testament to the University’s commitment to equipping its students for successful futures. Jennifer Gates praises the University for upholding its standards of excellence and achievement.

“Alcorn is rooted in history and triumph and continues to change the dynamics of its educational culture,” said Gates. “The effectuation of the DNP program echoes the University’s mission of striving to prepare graduates to be well-rounded future leaders of high character; and to be successful in the global marketplace of the 21 century.”

Enrolling in the School’s DNP program was an easy decision for the new doctors because they remember the exceptional training they received when they were graduate students in the master’s nursing program. Because Trevalla Eggleston-Lindsey trusted the expertise of her Alcorn professors, she is now ready to tackle her field with enhanced abilities and innovative methods.

“This achievement is significant because I have now earned a terminal degree and become an expert in nursing practice,” said Lindsey. “It feels good to know that I can now provide expert-level and evidence-based practice to my patients.”

Challenges were a part of the journey for all of the students striving to finish the doctorate program. Despite managing school, work, and family, Erika Martin was determined to hurdle the obstacles to complete the task. In the end, Martin says the hard work and sacrifices paid off.

“The program required self-discipline and dedication,” said Martin. “The greatest challenge for me was balancing the demands of school, work, and personal life and establishing time and commitment priorities. I spent many late nights completing coursework and lost many hours of sleep, but it was all worth it in the end. I am privileged to be part of the University’s history. Obtaining a doctorate enables me to become an innovative practitioner skilled at undertaking healthcare’s complex challenges.”

This accomplishment isn’t only significant for the doctors. Their success serves as a standard for those looking up to them to reach for or exceed in the future. Letisha Garth-Villes is adamant about encouraging her children to do their best, work hard, and never quit. Solidifying a doctorate is her way of practicing what she preaches.

“I take pride and satisfaction in accomplishing goals,” said Villes. “I know that my children are watching me. I am always encouraging them and telling them how they can accomplish anything they dream of if they work hard and don’t give up. There were times in the program I felt like giving up, but I had to follow the example that I give to my children and work harder instead of quitting. I lead by example.”