Hoskins makes sure lost loved ones represented at ceremony

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Photo: A memorial table set up during the pinning ceremony for the class of 2016 nursing class at Wallace State holds photographs of family members who have passed away, including a photograph of Ashley Hoskins’ parents and Christopher Bynum’s grandfather.

HANCEVILLE – While her mom and dad weren’t with her in person as she was pinned as a graduate of the Wallace State Community College nursing program and named one of the Nightingale Award winners, Ashley Hoskins’ parents were there in spirit, as were several other beloved family members for students in the Class of 2016.

Hoskins, the president of the Association of Nursing Students for the Class of 2016, devised a plan to honor deceased family members of students during Thursday night’s pinning ceremony. A table was set up to display photos of loved ones for students to memorialize them and as a way for them to be a part of festivities. There was a also an empty chair decorated with a white bow on stage to honor them and longtime WSCC supporter Eldridge Bynum, whose grandson Christopher Bynum is in the class. The chair was set up at the request of Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics.

“We’ve lost a lot of relatives in our class this year,” said Hoskins. She wanted to find a way to honor those family members, so she called class president Mark Brock, who wholeheartedly agreed with the plan. Hoskins said she collected about 10 photos to put on the memorial table.

Her parents, Eugene and Jan Hoskins, are included in that collection. Hoskins lost her dad when she was 17 of an aneurysm and her mother passed away unexpectedly on April 1 of this year. Hoskins said her mom suffered from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), but believes that wasn’t the direct cause of her death. Two days later, her classmate Whitney Bryant, lost her dad as well, adding to the losses for the Class of 2016.

Hoskins said their classmates rallied around both she and Bryant, writing cards and donating things they needed. “They were super-great about calls and texts to make sure we had everything we needed. They helped me out a lot.”

Hoskins also had the support of her best friend, Randi Harrison, who is also a member of the Class of 2016. She and Harrison have been friends since their days in first grade and stayed best friends even after both went to different high schools. They joined back up when they both started at Wallace State together to take their prerequisites before entering nursing school. “We just decided to go together and knew they had a great program at Wallace State,” Hoskins said.

The idea of becoming a nurse popped up for Hoskins when she was 15 years old. Her father suffered hearing loss from working around heavy equipment and he received a cochlear implant. Hoskins said that was the first time she’d been in a hospital setting and she even gave blood that day with her parents’ permission.

“I was super-excited because I felt like I helped someone,” she said.

Her mom, she said, was excited when Hoskins started nursing school. “She stayed on the phone all the time talking to people about how well I was doing,” she said.

During her pinning ceremony, Hoskins carried a ring her mother received for Mother’s Day that includes all the birthstones of her children and grandchildren. Her two sisters and their children and her boyfriend were all there to watch her achievements.

And while she couldn’t be there in person, Hoskins knows her mom was watching over her. “I think she would say that’s my baby girl and I’m so proud of her,” Hoskins said. “She was always bragging about me and my sisters.”

Hoskins will be among more than 1,100 students graduating tonight as Wallace State celebrates its 50th anniversary.  To see a video of the event, visit www.wallacestate.edu/graduation.