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Welch College and Union University Hendersonville celebrated the first graduates of the 2 + 2 Bachelor’s in Nursing (B.S.N.) program Thursday night, May 12, at the Welch campus, according to Dr. Ian Hawkins, Program Coordinator for the Biology Program at Welch. Six students graduated May 15 at Union’s main campus in Jackson, Tennessee, as part of the first cohort of the partnership: Kandace Ailworth, Riley Bell, Jake Gates, Maggie Parrish, Meredith Parrish, and Alexis Saunders.

The six graduates have earned high marks and awards. One served as a Tennessee Student Nursing Association representative and two were named members of the nursing honors society Sigma Theta Tau. All six graduates have already obtained positions in their field. These students were recognized for their accomplishments as faculty and administration from both institutions took part in a dinner and program.

“This 2 + 2 program was originally created with the help of Dr. Greg Ketteman and Dr. Charles Lea from Welch College and Dr. Kelly Harden, Dr. Allison Davis, and Dr. Leann Wilhite from Union’s nursing school,” Hawkins said. “It’s designed to have students complete their first two years at Welch as they earn an associates degree and can use Tennessee Promise funding. Then students continue to Union’s Hendersonville campus to finish their last two years of the program and earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing from Union University.

This program has received financial support from local hospitals, especially Sumner Regional Medical Center. It is the only traditional B.S.N. program in Sumner County.

“Family and friends were present to congratulate the graduates for their hard work especially during COVID-19,” Hawkins said. “These students endured changes in clinical assignments and worked throughout their time. We’re so proud of these graduates of this program that will continue to fulfill the mission to send out well-trained nurses to serve in their communities and to love and care for their patients.”

For more information on nursing at Welch, contact Dr. Ian Hawkins at ihawkins@welch.edu.

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