Kristen Westphal of Evanston takes part in the drive-through graduation ceremony from Oakton Community College's nursing program.

Twenty-six students completed Oakton Community College’s Nursing Program this fall and are now on their way to beginning careers in the health care industry.

Oakton recognized the Fall 2020 nursing graduates at a drive-up pinning ceremony Thursday at the Des Plaines campus. Graduates received their pins and celebrated their success with honks and waves from faculty, family and friends.

“Congratulations to the Class of 2020,” Margaret Gas, Nursing chair, said. “This has been a very challenging time for our students. They have been flexible and we are so proud of them. These inspiring graduates are entering the field when they’re needed most. We know they’ll make an immediate impact. We wish our nursing graduates all the best in their future endeavors.”

Evanston residents among the graduates include Haileyesus Adeye, Jacqueline Ogawa, Kristen Westphal and Silvia Zouain.

Ogawa earned distinction as the Keeper of the Light Award, which recognizes the Oakton nursing candidate who has maintained the highest grade point average throughout the nursing curriculum. She graduated with a class high 3.79 GPA.

Zouain was among those recognized for graduating with honors, receiving a GPA between 3.50 and 3.74.

Since 1984, more than 2,400 students have received an Associate of Applied Science-Nursing credential from Oakton. Instructional classes and labs feature a state-of-the-art nursing simulation hospital and nursing classrooms. Students enrich their learning through the clinical experiences offered in various health care settings throughout the community.

Over the last five years, Oakton has averaged a first-time pass rate of over 92% on the NCLEX, the national licensure exam for nurses. In 2019, that passing rate was 95%.

Nurses are in high demand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs for registered nurses are expected to grow faster than average through 2026, with a median salary of more than $68,000 per year.

Oakton’s nursing program is approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Nursing is a limited enrollment program, and applications for fall 2021 are being accepted through Feb. 28, 2021.

Admission requirements are posted online.

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