Phoenix/ Community & Society
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Published on February 25, 2024
Aspen University Nursing Graduates Triumph After Program Closure Scare in PhoenixSource: Google Street View

Just over a year since Aspen University's nursing program faced the threat of closure, graduates are now spreading their wings in the real world. Donielle Jording, who commuted from Prescott to Phoenix for her studies, beamed to ABC15 about passing her exam and now working as a registered nurse in labor and delivery. "The best things come to those who don't give up," she shared of her journey that led to a career where she's present for "the scariest moments" of her patients' lives.

Last year's graduates aren't the only ones basking in successful outcomes. Aspen University was previously under fire for its pass rates, sparking fears from current students who were worried their education and future were hanging in the balance, according to a report by 12News. Students formed a committee, presenting a united front, and taking their case to legislators, with State Rep. Steve Montenegro and State Senator T.J. Shope throwing their support behind the need for skilled nurses.

The university's plea to prevent the shut down of its nursing program due to previous subpar exam scores and other issues resulted in allowing current students to finish their education via a teach-out. This temporary reprieve, which will see the Phoenix nursing program finally closing in September. Future nurses like Courtney Rodgers, a recent graduate working in a burn unit, exemplify the resilience and dedication of their cohort, telling ABC15, "We did it. We proved that we are competent enough to be safe nurses."

Despite the success of recent graduates, the debacle has caused ripples of uncertainty for students and the broader nursing community in Arizona. When trying to discuss transferring credits, students were faced with the harsh reality that their credits must originate from accredited universities. The University of Arizona has extended a small olive branch, offering an appeal process for two courses from non-accredited institutions, which to many can be a crucial lifeline.

Fighting for the survival of their program paid off for the students at Aspen University, their perseverance captured in their emotional accounts and the plaques of gratitude they awarded to state officials. The true testament of their struggle and the quality of their education will be measured in the lives they impact, the care they provide, and in the paths they carve out in service to their communities—as registered nurses who once stood on the precipice of uncertainty and emerged equipped to face the frontline of patient care.