Virginia Western Community College announces that four Franklin County High School students will walk at graduation in May and complete a Nurse Aide Career Studies Certificate through the College’s dual enrollment program this summer. Emily Ayles, Leah Clingenpeel, Siera Robertson and Carolanne Sink will be earning their certificates. In addition, 14 other students will need to only complete two more courses to graduate in August.

“Franklin County has offered a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program in the past, but this is the first time it has been dual enrolled,” said Dr. Elizabeth Wilmer, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at the College. “By taking the college-level classes while still in high school, these students have gotten a huge advantage whether they plan to go directly into the workforce or continue to pursue nursing degrees at Virginia Western or elsewhere.”

Students in the program complete 16 college credits, including hands-on experience in area healthcare facilities, course work in ethics for healthcare professionals, medical terminology and nursing assistant skills. The foundational classwork leads directly into the coursework for a Registered Nurse (RN) program.

“As an aspiring pediatric nurse, I took this program in hopes to get a feel for what it is like to be working and communicating with residents,” said Ayles. “I have gained so much from this course like confidence, better communication and how to be a better worker. … I am so happy to have taken these classes and I am now even more excited to further my career.”

Many of the students enrolled in the CNA program will pursue their RN at Virginia Western, where they can take many classes at the Franklin Center in Rocky Mount. Earlier in March, the students took their skills to the state competition in Williamsburg, earning trophies in the Nursing Bowl competition and other events.

“I gained a great amount of knowledge about people and healthcare through this program,” said Clingenpeel. “It helped me understand what I want to do throughout my life.”