The Methuselah of all SPC Health Care Programs has a Pinning Ceremony for Students on Dec. 13

December 10, 2018

Public Information Officer


Sixty-five graduating St. Philip’s College vocational nursing students enter a busy week of receiving pins and degrees of the profession

At the original health care program of 120-year-old St. Philip’s College this week, one of Texas’ oldest college-level licensed vocational nursing programs is honoring and celebrating 65 students and their fast-track journeys to becoming licensed vocational nurses in San Antonio---and joining more than 7,000 alumni of this 69-year-old program. 

Sixty-five St. Philip’s College licensed vocational nursing program students ceremonially receive their nursing pins in a ceremony on Thursday morning (Dec. 13), followed by ceremonially receiving their college degrees during the college’s fall 2018 graduation ceremony that takes place Friday evening (Dec. 14). At many college-level licensed vocational nursing programs, ceremonies where students receive the pins of the profession for their medical uniforms are usually held a few weeks before a nursing program’s graduation ceremony, but at St. Philip’s College, both the students and their loved ones who support them are committed to a more compressed timeline.

It’s a busy and emotional week as these students committed to learn on 12-month, full-time, Monday through Friday, 40 hour-per-week day or night timelines---some co-enrolled in San Antonio’s nationally noted Project QUEST program---and their future business success depends on sitting for and successfully passing their exams for licensure early in 2019---once they receive their degrees this week.

More than 7,000 vocational nursing alumni have anticipated the pinning ceremony experience during their student nursing careers at St. Philip’s College, the emotions ran high, and the environment within the 69 year-old nursing program this week is no exception.

From alumni to prospective students, all are welcome to share in traditions that keep Texas healthy during the St. Philip’s College LVN Program Pinning Ceremony Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. in the Watson Fine Arts Center at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive, and the 140th St. Philip’s College Commencement ceremony Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. in Freeman Coliseum at 3201 E. Houston St. with other students who are earning nearly 700 degrees and certificates from one of the “pillars of education” in 300-year-old San Antonio.

St. Philip’s College established its first health care program, the Vocational Nursing Program, in 1949. More than half the college’s 120-year business lifetime---almost 70 years of service---includes a nursing program that is the original of the 16 health science programs the college currently offers. One-third of the experience takes places in the St. Philip's College Dr. Frank Bryant, Jr., Patient Simulation Center and Nursing Laboratories established in 2008, with two-thirds in real-word/real-time at medical facilities in the local area. The core of the sim training is an eight-bed sim-hospital, used by classes of students who are new and experienced veterans of the medical world, preparing to earn academic credentials and awaiting the opportunity to test for their licenses to practice. The 65 licensed vocational nursing programs students receiving pins on Dec. 13 made 835 training visits to the sim center from Sept. 13-Oct. 12 alone. 

  • Among the 69 students being honored, Dorathy Tarpeh carves out time to personally give back by serving meals at San Antonio Food Bank, and in addition to assisting in sorting and packaging food items for distribution, she assists by maintaining the garden area where fresh vegetables are grown for clients in need. Tarpeh is one of only three 2018 St. Philip’s College Dr. Adena Williams Loston Presidential Scholarship Award recipients. Through giving back and achieving academically, Tarpeh has contributed to helping St. Philip’s College achieve record enrollment numbers and outstanding community engagement while bringing a Governor’s Award for Performance Excellence to San Antonio in 2018, and its share of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

St. Philip’s College established the Methuselah of all its health care programs---the Vocational Nursing Program---in 1949 when Saint and St. Philip’s College President Emeritus Artemisia Bowden was Dean of the College and sourcing new careers for African-American women by employing a qualified practical nursing instructor and an affiliation with a hospital to support this business unit. 

Bertha M. Storey was the first practical nursing teacher at St. Philip’s College and her first class in practical nursing at St. Philip’s College began on Sept. 12, 1949, with 12 women as students who graduated in 1950. In 1984, the St. Philip’s College Vocational Nursing Program New Braunfels extension was created to provide nursing education to the students in the New Braunfels and surrounding areas. The objective of SPC Vocational Nursing and other Allied Health programs has always been twofold: to meet community healthcare needs as well as educating individuals to be safe, competent, compassionate healthcare providers and contributing citizens. The medical education business units have been important to San Antonio’s health, and in 1968, programs were offered for the first time for operating room technicians, ward clerks and nurse aides. A full-time, 12-month evening class in Vocational Nursing was added in 1969 in addition to the day program, and both options are offered at present. Based upon this business success, in 1969, a program leading to an Associate in Applied Science Degree for medical record technicians began, and inhalation therapy, medical laboratory technician and radiologic technology programs leading to Associate in Applied Science degrees were begun in September 1971. By 1973, 12 community health care facilities worked in cooperation with the college to offer clinical training for 745 students.

The students graduating this week took part in such community service-learning projects as community health fairs, providing health services at the college’s annual scholarship golf tournament, presenting to students at Bowden Elementary School, participating in local high school career fairs and in the tenth anniversary edition of the San Antonio Mass Casualty Exercise and Evaluation that is the most important mass casualty exercise in the city. St. Philip’s College students have been among the largest source of casualty drill participants at times since 2008, and in addition to faculty leading as planner-practitioners, in 2018 the 700 volunteers who acted as victims, friends and family members during the exercise organized by the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council included 52 students from the college’s 69 year-old nursing program.

While objectives of the SPC Nursing Education Department have been successfully met in the past, at present, the students graduating  this week to join more than 7,000 alumni are: Alejandra Aguirre, Smart Ahuekwe, Baby Elisa Alcantara, Kathy Alderete, Gabriella Allsup, Erica Almanza, Maria Cecilia Alvarez, Akoko Keshi Amovin, Geraldine Anderson, Yeni Baker, Crystal Bean, Megan Borgeson, Belen Celeste Cabrera, Irma Carielo Charles, Susanne Castillo, Abigail Congdon, Jessica Dewett, Laura Diamante, Narda Flores, Carissa Garcia, Licet Gonzalez, Lillian Gonzalez, Raquel Gonzalez, Monserrath Guardiola, Brianna Hicks, Donetta Jackson, Alexis Laneaux, Robert Leiva, Victoria Lemons, Maria Mandujano, Jeanette Melendez, Amber Miller, Gabriel Mireles, Eva Montelongo, Shelby Murray, Linette Ndansak, Gerry Nova, Jennifer Stephanie Olivo, Jezavel Palafos, Sophia Perez Bellorin, Tashane D. Perez, Celeste Ramirez, Ebony Rice, Virginia Rivera, Kimberly Salmon, Lilieth Stearns, Mercedes Suarez, Lindsay Swaim, Richard Tan, Dorathy Tarpeh, Nanette Terrazas, Whittney Thomas, Vanessa Vallejo, Shalanza Wilson, Leilani Wong, Nissa Zendejo, Sarah Zuazua, Melissa Zygulski, , Vyridiana Azuela, Stephanie Botello, Sarah Gates, Auvril Melton-McKinney, Krystal Morales, Sylvia Rivera and Nguvan Uhaa

To join the alumni conversation on the original health care program at St. Philip’s College or to find enrollment information, view certificate program details online and follow social media at or visit the campuses---in San Antonio at the college’s Center for Health Professions building at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive and in New Braunfels at the Central Texas Technology Center building at 2189 F.M. 758.