WSCC Respiratory Therapy graduates recognized

(Wallace State)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. — Wallace State Community College’s Respiratory Therapy program graduated more than two dozen students during its annual pinning ceremony.

Class president Jaida Johnson of Cleveland said the ceremony marked the end of rewarding and challenging journey toward their careers as respiratory therapists.

“We have chosen a noble profession that requires a unique skill set and knowledge base,” she said. “We have learned how to provide life-saving care to patients who are struggling to breathe. We have studied the intricacies of the human respiratory system, and we have sharpened our critical thinking skills to make quick decisions in high-pressure situations.

“But we have also learned that respiratory therapy is more than just a career,” Johnson added. “It is a calling, a vocation that requires compassion, empathy and a deep commitment to the well-being of our patients. Every day, we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering, and that is a privilege that should never be taken lightly.”

Guest speaker Jennifer Logan, a clinical instructor at UAB Women’s and Infants’ Center RNICU department expressed her pride in the “incredible group of people” she’s instructed over the last two years.

“Some of you might be surprised, but they have always been on the quieter side in my classes,” she said. “But what I soon realized with them is that they showed their skill not by word, but by actions. At the bedside they are even-tempered, collected and competent, which is truly where it counts. Every hospital that each of them have chosen to work at will be stronger and better because of the respiratory therapist they have been dedicated to become.”

Tabatha Tatum, Respiratory Therapy director of clinical education and instructor, presented program awards to a number of students who achieved excellence in the classroom and in the clinical setting.

The Respiratory Therapy Program Award was presented to Zack Stevens of Hokes Bluff. Tatum said Stevens embodies professionalism, respect, and empathy and has performed well and shown excellence in the classroom and in the clinical setting.

The Academic Excellence Award was presented to Kiya Steele of Falkville, who has the highest GPA in the class. The award is presented to a student who has demonstrated the ability to perform, achieve, and excel in the classroom.

“It is also more than just getting good grades,” Tatum said. “It is a virtue that requires working every day giving the best despite the obstacles and adversities that may arise. This student has shown hard work, self-sacrifice, and determination for themselves and others.”

The Clinical Excellence Award was presented to Caleb Mathews of Huntsville. Mathews completed two2 years of clinical shifts, which comes to 750 hours, without missing a day, earned an A in all four clinical courses, and completed all clinical assignments on time.

Tatum said Mathews received excellent feedback from clinical staff, including that he is an excellent student who had a good rapport with patients and treated all patients in a proper and caring manner. He was knowledgeable of medicines and treatments and willing to learn about new topics.

Program Director Ashley Lancaster congratulated all the students but reminded them their work is just beginning.

“We have high expectations for you, because we believe that each and every one of you is capable of making a tremendous difference in the lives of your future patients and within this profession,” she said. “We take the breath of life for granted until we’re at risk of losing it so people often don’t realize the importance of a respiratory therapist until they need one.

“At times, a respiratory therapist is the only thing standing between life and death for the patient,” Lancaster added. “Do not take that responsibility lightly.”

The Wallace State Respiratory Therapy program is a five-semester associate degree program. Applications for admission for the fall 2023 semester are being accepted through June 1. Visit, email or call 256-352-8305 for more information.