School of Practical Nursing holds 19th Job Corps Graduation

The 2019 School of Practical Nursing Cassadaga Job Corps graduating class.

Some students will stay local, many will return to their hometowns, but regardless of their decision the health care industry as a whole will benefit from their newly accrued knowledge.

The Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES School of Practical Nursing recently celebrated its 19th Cassadaga Job Corps LPN graduation ceremony held at the LoGuidice Educational Center.

“This is the culmination of the exceptional partnerships between BOCES and Cassadaga Job Corps Academy,” said Vicki Yonkers, Cassadaga Job Corps Career Technical Training Manager.

Ten students completed the rigorous one-year LPN course and will prepare now for the NCLEX exam.

“There were a lot of ups and downs, some challenges I had to go through but I’m happy to be here. This is another step in my education,” said Garrett Koerner.

Isis Stokes receives the Critical Catch Award during the 19th School of Practical Nursing Cassadaga Job Corps LPN graduation ceremony held at the LoGuidice Educational Center. Isis received the award for discovering a patient at the Chautauqua Nursing & Rehabilitation Center did not have distal pulses in one of their legs.

Koerner, a native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, previously fulfilled CNA coursework at a Job Corps center in his home state. His desire to continue in a field that often times revolves around traumatic situations was predicated on one of his own experiences.

“When I was younger I was in a really bad car accident. I remember how the nurses treated me,” he recalled. “That experience made me want to give back to people, to be able to treat people the way I believe they should be treated.”

LPN graduates — joined by many friends, family members and caregivers — were reminded often during the ceremony that their achievement is something that no one can take away from them.

“There are misconceptions that you’re not a real nurse. You absolutely are a real nurse,” said Dr. Kathy Taydus, DNP, RN Jamestown Community College Director of Nursing Education and guest speaker. “You are not inferior to anyone, especially a registered nurse. A wise registered nurse understands the value of having an LPN at his or her side to help care for a patient. Nothing can take away the dedication and achievement of becoming an LPN.”

According to Dr. Taydus, the health care industry and LPN employment opportunities are expected to grow as much as 12 percent each year through 2026 to meet the needs of aging baby boomers.

Janeil Rey, Ph. D., Director of Workforce Development, jokingly admitted she would fall into this category but hopes her need for health care services will come at a much later date. The idea of producing highly-qualified LPNs, however, is a comfort to her and others who may require services.

“I think all of us have had the experience of needing health care over our lives and when you’re in that vulnerable position, to have a caring, compassionate and competent nurse looking out for you is priceless,” Rey said.

Four individual awards were distributed during the ceremony and included recognition for Valedictorian La’Shanda Moreland; Salutatorians Salious Ba and Michael Sui; and Isis Stokes who received the Critical Catch Award for diagnosing a life-threatening ailment for a resident of the Chautauqua Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

“We created a connection together. We really persevered through all of the obstacles we had,” said Brianna Torrez, a native of California. “I feel accomplished. This is the first real challenge I’ve ever had so it’s a great stepping stone.”

For more information about the LPN program or other health care programming please visit