Concordia University Ann Arbor's first-ever 'Alpha' class nurses graduate

Photo: Kelly Cieslak ('13)
Photo: Kelly Cieslak ('13)

ANN ARBOR – Sunday's commencement ceremony marked a milestone for Concordia University Ann Arbor's nursing program. 

Known as the Alpha class, the first-ever cohort of 39 Bachelor of Science in nursing students walked across the stage to receive their diplomas at the school's inaugural, mid-academic year commencement ceremony.

"There is always something about being the first," Dean of CUAA's School of Nursing Cindy Fenske, DNP, RN, CNE, said in a statement. "They are a wonderful group of unique people that I have had the opportunity and pleasure to teach, as well as be their dean."

Just three years ago, the program didn't exist. CUAA received approval from the Michigan State Board of Nursing in November 2015 to launch the program.

At the same time, the university's board of regents approved the purchase of the former Thomas Cooley Law School, located 3 miles north of CUAA's central campus. 

From there, campus leaders planned a massive remodel of the 84,000-square-foot building with the goal of incorporating state-of-the-art technology to support hands-on learning.

In July 2016, the nursing program moved into its new home and, two months later, welcomed the Alpha class. 

Simulation immersion is a key element in the nursing program's curriculum, with 1.5 to 3.5 hours of simulation per week. 

Having completed six 15-week semesters, the graduates have completed hundreds of hours of engaged, hands-on learning.

In addition to this, the students completed clinicals in various health care settings, with several of them traveling abroad to complete their community health hours.

Now, the students need to prepare for the National Council Licensure Examination, which is generally taken six to eight weeks post-commencement.

Members of the Alpha class have a diverse set of interests, from urban clinics and hospital settings to pursuing graduate degrees and opening clinics in Africa.

"What we’ve heard from our clinical partners is that they are very impressed with our students," Fenske said in a statement. "They’re impressed with how hard they work, how they come ready to go, to serve, ready to jump in, and knowledgeable about what they’re doing. This class has worked so hard. I’m excited for them to take care of me one day."

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