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Paramedic and PTA graduates receive their degrees during summer commencement ceremony

Paramedic and PTA graduates receive their degrees during summer commencement ceremony

NORFOLK, Neb. – Students in two programs at Northeast Community College who have completed their education were recognized in a special ceremony recently. Students in the college’s Paramedic and Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) programs who completed their clinical and field experiences this summer, a requirement to be conferred their degrees, were presented their diplomas during a special commencement ceremony in the Lifelong Learning Center.

Jeff Hoffman, dean of health & public services, told graduates as they celebrate their graduation, the college honors the evidence of their commitment to learning. 

“Every single one of you has pushed yourselves outside of your comfort zone and worked hard to be here today,” Hoffman said. “In addition to honoring your commitment to learning, we are honoring Northeast’s commitment to teaching excellence. Northeast’s dedicated faculty and staff have been proud to work with each of you and assist you in attaining your educational goals.” 

Northeast’s Paramedic program provides students with the required knowledge and skills to care for patients who are injured due to trauma or suffer from medical problems. Instructors not only teach but work as paid professionals in the paramedic field. 

The PTA program at Northeast prepares students to work as healthcare providers who are employable in any physical therapy setting. Students are trained with current technology and innovative exercise equipment to simulate realistic clinical settings. 

Paramedic graduate Eric Closter, South Sioux City, served his country in the U.S. Air Force and later joined the Nebraska State Patrol serving in multiple roles. His journey in emergency medicine began as an EMT on the Crofton Rescue Squad. In his student message to graduates, Closter thanked them for “answering the call” to serve their communities.

“Our patients deserve the very best. We have both the honor and responsibility to provide our patients with both effective and competent care,” Closter said. … “With this great responsibility of competent care, also comes the responsibility of humility. Seek ways to improve each day, reflect on each call and brainstorm ways to improve, and be humble. A scary healthcare provider is one who thinks they know everything. … Thank you for choosing this path to help others.”
Closter has accepted a position with the South Sioux City Fire Department. 

PTA graduate Brooklyn Moody, Aurora, encouraged graduates to continue to have the same beliefs they have had in completing their educational journey, with the assistance of faculty while working as a team. She said it is something they can carry throughout their lives.

“’Progress, not perfection’” is something that we can all hang onto even as we depart Northeast Community College and find jobs. Never forget that you can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it. Find those that will continually help you throughout both the hard and easy journeys of life,” Moody said. … “As we go out into the world with professional jobs, think about this quote again, ‘A little progress everyday adds up to big results.’ … “Dig deep every single day to make that difference in patients’ lives and be the kind caring professionals that we all said we wanted to be from the beginning.”

Moody plans to stay in Nebraska after graduation. She aspires to work in an outpatient setting where she can positively impact the lives of her patients.  
In her faculty address, Stacey Aldag, mathematics instructor, told graduates as they look back on the time they have spent at Northeast they should focus on their adventure to earn a degree or a diploma. 

“We, your Northeast family, were your people and we were the guides on your adventure. I want to thank you for choosing Northeast for this adventure. You are Northeast people, and you are always welcome here,” Aldag said. “Today is the beginning of a new adventure for you with new direction and new people. Go out and know who you are, live an extraordinary life, and make a difference in the world.”

Also speaking during the program were Julie Robinson, chairperson of the Northeast Board of Governors, Charlene Widener, vice president of educational services, Amanda Nipp, vice president of student services, Carol Rodenborg, director EMS/Paramedic Programs, and Laura Schwanebeck, director of the PTA program. 

Graduates include:

Associate of Applied Science - Paramedic

Bassett – Katherine Gurnsey.
Burwell – Tiffany Mayfield.
Mead – Lauren Holloway.
South Sioux City – Eric Kloster.

Associate of Applied Science - Physical Therapist Assistant 

Aurora – Brooklyn Moody.
Blair – Anna Bassler.
Burwell – Madison Dye.
Fairbury – Erin Kujath.
Madison – Eli Knapp.
Milford – Mariah Richards.
Norfolk – Jade Koch.
Ord – Mariah Van Leer.
Wagner, So. Dak. – Kayli Kocer.

Diploma in Paramedic

Columbus – Aaron Perez.
Mead – Lauren Holloway.
Winnebago – Michelice Kie.

Students also received pins signifying completion of their respective programs. 

Northeast’s Paramedic and PTA and Commencement Ceremony was broadcast live by Northeast’s Media Arts- Broadcasting program. It may be viewed online at under the On Demand tab. 


                                                                                                  PHOTO CUTLINE 

Anna Bassler, Blair, (center) receives her Associate of Applied Science degree in Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) degree from Charlene Widener, vice president of educational services at Northeast Community College, during a commencement ceremony held this week for graduates in the Paramedic and PTA programs. Bassler was one of 16 students in the two Northeast programs who received their diplomas after they completed their experiences this summer, a requirement to be conferred their degrees.