LC students enter nursing program, receive TikTok starter kit

The journey started for 42 Laredo College students on Wednesday as their orientation began early in the morning where they would hear about the expectations they will have to meet for the college and the community.

Furthermore, they would not leave empty handed as the $1 million TikTok grant received last year would help provide each student with a number of resources for the start of their nursing career as part of the TikTok Health Heroes Starter Kit.

Each student received two sets of nursing uniforms, a $413 check, a stethoscope and a skill kit with a variety of nursing equipment that will be covered throughout their semester, LC Dean of Health Sciences Dr. Dianna Miller said.

She added that items like the Littmann stethoscope can be used throughout their entire careers; this may also make a nice memento of their perseverance during these difficult times. Generally, these stethoscopes are priced at $100 and have the capability of using them for both adult and pediatric patients.

The check will pay for software, prep work and general electronic resources to help the students work and study. Miller said that they will be thrusted into the work soon and will be using their equipment by next week.

“They have to do their part. We can do our part, but they also have to spend time studying,” she said.

The orientation was said to have ended at 3 p.m., but moving forward after each one-hour class, the subject demands at least a three-hour studying period. Miller said that it is the same formula that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has looked at favorably.

Open labs will also be available for practices before they are put in clinical practices, whether they be at hospitals, nursing homes, etc.

Miller said that discussions have been had with one of the medical facilities in the community to find positions for nursing students during these times where medical staff are sorely needed.

Additionally, state legislation dictated that students in the licensed vocational nurse or associate degree programs can be hired into medical facilities as a way to symbiotically help. Miller said that regardless, the 42 students are slated to graduate in May 2023.

“All of the students that came in, they were competing with 500 students to be able to come into our program, and these are the ones that were in the top of that tier,” Miller said.

The overall vibe of the ceremony was filled with excitement and optimism as students gathered to eat after their first photos with their uniforms. With the starter kits handed out at 11 a.m., they still had several hours of orientation to go.

Pablo Lerma is one of the 42 new nursing students, and he said that it was an honor to have been picked out of the 500 other students. The TikTok grant resources were a surprise, he said, and after several majors that didn’t fit his passion to help, Lerma feels nursing is the best fit.

“I think that will be my end goal for my life,” he said. “To be able to help anyone in need, that’s what drives me to be a nurse.”

One of the major factors that influenced his decision in joining the LC nursing program was how quick students can start with clinicals and being able to get a hands-on experience. It was an easy decision, and while he understands that it will be challenging, there is no pressure holding him back.

Miller said that the nursing program will challenge each student but will open multiple avenues leading them to different directions. Regardless, employment will be available wherever they end up, even before they graduate.

Interim President Dr. Marisela Tijerina said that amid the pandemic, LC students worked alongside the medical community throughout Laredo to administer COVID-19 vaccines and showcased their love of caring for the community.

Through 2021, these new students may see an opportunity to be on the frontlines as booster shots are in the works globally. There may be a chance that these students will have to roll up their sleeves and get out there.

However, Tijerina made sure to remind each student that they are not alone, and the LC nursing staff is available to help. She advised students that no matter how challenging the courses or work may be, they should not give up or forget their purpose for being in the nursing program.

“There’s a reason we are No. 1,” she said. “… We have high expectations for you all. We’ve been maintaining our No. 1 ranking in our nursing school for a reason. And why? Because it’s the students, it’s the faculty, it’s the administration and, most importantly, also the community.”

TikTok’s Deena Woloshin spoke to the students and college in a pre-recorded video talking about the TikTok for Good’s impact on higher education this past year. The $1 million grant was handed out to higher education institutions, with LC being the only community college chosen for its nursing program’s accolades and involvement in the community.

According to Miller, the grant allowed the college to purchase the starter kits for the students, which will be provided to first semester students and transitional students until the grant funding depletes. Another portion of the grant will be used to purchase equipment for the health science division and faculty trainings.

Laredo College Board President Lupita Zepeda and Board Vice President Jorge “JD” Delgado said they were delighted and proud of the students, as well as grateful for the grant by TikTok.

Delgado said that its an exciting time seeing students return to campus and highlighted that LC is making a safe return a priority.

“On behalf of the board of directors, we are very excited for the commitment and the donation we have from TikTok in order to be able to help these 42 students to continue their higher education with Laredo College,” Zepeda said.

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