Praise for high-achieving student nurses, midwives
Student nurse Melissa Grant Lawson (centre) strikes a pose with head of the Caribbean School of Nursing, Associate Professor Dr Adella Campbell (left) and lecturer Lorna Calder after receiving her award for having the highest cumulative grade point average (GPA) in thebachelor of science nursing programme at UTech. (Photos: Karl Mclarty)

STUDENT nurses and midwives from the Caribbean School of Nursing (CSON), University of Technology, Jamaica (Utech) were on Friday praised for their academic excellence despite the setbacks COVID-19 brought and the increased difficulty and challenges learning through an online platform poses.

Associate professor Dr Adella Campbell, head of CSON, told those attending the 10th Annual Striping Ceremony on Zoom that in the midst of crisis her students weathered the storm.

“It is no secret that the world has not been the same since December 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic – a pandemic that is no respecter of person – has had not just material impact, but psychological, physical and socio-economic impact on individuals, societies, families, businesses and countries. A period now known as the Great Lockdown Crisis. The CSON students and staff members were not spared the deleterious effects of this ever pervasive disease,” she said.

“We quickly had to adjust to the new normal, which saw classes transitioned to online modality, utilising various platforms, adjusting lab sessions and clinical practicum to align with Disaster Risk Management protocols and government guidelines geared at containing the virus. CSON, nonetheless, has once again proved its resilience and worth, in a changing world. Despite having Internet connectivity issues, loss of jobs, self and family, financial challenges, travelling far distances to the campus, work from home, among others, the CSON students' and staff's performance has exceeded our expectation,” Dr Campbell went on.

The test of time, Dr Campbell said, was proven when 60 of her students managed to achieve a grade point average (GPA) greater than 3.45 which will land them on the Dean's list. She said this number is an increase from the 28 students who achieved this academic feat last year.

“I'm delighted to announce that this year we have 60 students with a cumulative GPA of 3.45 and above. This achievement has propelled CSON into a rather unique position, that of being the school in the College of Health Sciences with the most students on the Dean's list. Additionally, students are currently being processed for the university's 60th anniversary scholarships, as we continue to celebrate our 60th anniversary.

“It is with much pleasure that I announce that the CSON students have the highest GPA for semester one, in the college, and are from the Montego Bay Campus. We continue to graduate students with first class honours from both campuses. At graduation 2020, there were four first class honours graduates from the Caribbean School of Nursing. Of note, is that, overall, most graduates, graduate with honours degrees. Congratulations to the hard-working CSON team for making these achievements a reality. I know you have gone beyond the call of duty and you continue to work under challenging circumstances to make this a reality,” Dr Campbell said.

Guest speaker Juliet Holness told the parable of the 10 wise and foolish virgins and reminded the students to always have their lamps filled with oil and prepared for the unexpected.

Melissa Grant Lawson, the student with the highest cumulative GPA for the bachelor of science nursing programme, was delighted that she managed to stay focused when the pandemic hit last March. She said her trust in God and believing that he would take care of everything kept her grounded.

“My family was extremely supportive, and I told myself I had no choice but to focus, study and get through the courses. My goal was always to pass each course so I could progress to the next level, never to have a high GPA, but it is a pleasant surprise. I credit the achievement to the grace of God. I always try to make time to worship God every day no matter the pressure I am under or the deadlines I have,” Grant Lawson said.

Regarding her strategy, student nurse Grant Lawson said, “I try to start studying early in the semester, to understand the information backward and forward. I ask for help when needed, I always read the textbooks and other supporting documents, such as references used in lectures, never relying solely on lecture notes. I spend sufficient time reviewing information, studying, and practising. I put maximum effort into each assignment and test and I keep my eyes on the goal of passing all courses.”

Student nurse Richard Atkins said that in March, when COVID-19 first shook Jamaica, he was happy to get a few weeks off from going to school for the usual face-to-face classes, but when the dark reality set in that he might not go back to school, in person, for the rest of the semester, he became somewhat depressed. But he resolved to not be defeated.

“With the assignments piling up, I had to stay focused in spite of this. The words I had to start living by were, “Always remember, your focus determines your reality” — George Lucas. With that being said, I had to find a way to channel all of that to continue being productive through the stress. Thankfully I have a supportive family and great group of friends so it was a lot easier to create systems to help me stay focused.

“First, I had to understand that overworking myself would do more harm than good, so I would try and ensure I was getting good sleep and trying to eat right. To complete the majority of my assignments I had to have a set schedule and the goals I would want to achieve so as to ensure that most of the time I wasn't lazing around watching random videos on YouTube. So, no matter how hard the going gets during this pandemic, just take some time to rest, realign, talk to friends and get your head back in the game,” Atkins said.

Head of Caribbean School of Nursing, associate Professor Dr Adella Campbell (second left) stripes student nurse Jerome Daley (left) while lecturer Lorna Calder (right) stripes student nurse Richard Atkins.

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