It was a big day for many graduating nursing students in the Central Plains and surrounding area.

A graduation ceremony was held Dec. 17 at Canad Inns Portage for 23 nursing grads in the Assiniboine Community College Portage site Licensed Practical Nursing program.

The 15-month program is now complete.

Lindsay Maryniuk, from Portage la Prairie, is one of the graduating members of the class.

"It's a great feeling," she said of finishing the program. "It was a lot of hard work."

She will now be going on to start work at Portage District General Hospital in the surgical and maternity unit.

She said she is glad she will be able to play a role in helping provide "quality of life" to people, adding working in the nursing field is a highly rewarding career.

"Nurses play a huge role in all of that," said Maryniuk.

This is the last class for the 15-month certificate program. Assiniboine College's 15-month certificate program is being replaced by the two-year diploma program. Students graduating from the certificate program have the option to upgrade to the diploma level in the future.

Dorothy Pasowisty, from Portage la Prairie, is also a member of the graduating class. She will be going on to work at Portage District General Hospital as well as to continue her casual work at Lions Prairie Manor.

"It's absolutely awesome," she said on graduating. "It was really worth it."

Pasowisty added there is "lots of opportunity" for nursing graduates.

She especially enjoys working in a profession helping care for other people. Having seen her own family members benefiting from the efforts of health care professionals made an impression on her.

"Seeing the importance of being there and being a good nurse to provide that care for others," encouraged Pasowisty to take up nursing.

In the Southport class, 12 students in the class graduated with distinction with a 90 per cent average out of the 23 grads. Kimberley Johnson, from Portage, received the highest average award.

An instructor with the Assiniboine College Practical Nursing program at Southport, Jane Tully said she was impressed with the excellent performance of the students.

"It is very nice to see them come from a variety of backgrounds and successfully complete a professional program," she said.

"We were really proud of them and we expected them to do well," she said.

Tully added just about all graduating students have already found employment.

As well, she is particularly pleased the program was able to accommodate so many rural students, adding students came from throughout the Central Region to attend the program.

"A consistent remark we heard from our students was that they couldn't have taken the program if it hadn't been offered rurally, as so many have families and/or are busy with their farm and work and helping their partners."