They waited anxiously to travel down the steps into the Wharton Center to celebrate their completion of two years worth of hard work that was condensed into just twelve months. They're the 44 students of MSU's College of Nursing Accelerated Program.
"It was only a year, but I think I might have aged five in this whole period because everything was so intense."
Jessica Powrie of Ann Arbor graduated with a degree in Social Work back in 2003 but was unable to find a job. So like her classmates, who also have other bachelor degrees, she decided to apply for the accelerated nursing program. And now a year later she's already been offered two jobs.
"It really is remarkable, going from working at Wal-Mart and not being able to pay someone for a job and now just knowing there's endless possibilities."
Dr. Marilyn Rothert is MSU's College of Nursing Dean. She says, "In twelve months they go from absolutely no experience in a nursing background or education to a baccalaureate degree and fully qualified to take the exam for a registered nurse."
The program started last August with intense training, sometimes close to 40 hours a week. And the 2006 class is the first group to graduate.
According to MSU Nursing Instructor Della Hughes, "They're actually sought after by employers because they have two degrees now. And they're actually our next leaders in healthcare."
Dorothy Gonzales, of the MSU Board of Trustees, says "Looking at it across the country, we have an aging population. We have to look for other alternatives in order to have good healthcare for people that need it."
And the accelerated nursing program is just a start, with more than 40 new nurses headed out into the field. The graduates still have to take the NCLEX exam in order to work as a registered nurse.