A first-generation college student who received her Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree at Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) is now assistant director of nursing at a Calhoun nursing home.

Crystal Garland, who received her ASN degree from GNTC in May, said she just began training for her new position as assistant director of Nursing at Calhoun Health Care Center. She worked previously at the facility as a wound care nurse, but she relinquished that position after her first semester in the ASN program at GNTC and remained on staff as needed as a medical nurse.

“I am the first member of my family to go to college, and now I have been twice,” the Gordon County resident said. “My niece recently graduated from high school and has enrolled in prerequisite courses to become a nurse, as well. My youngest sister also recently enrolled in college.”

“I completed my Practical Nursing diploma at GNTC in 2009. My experience in the Practical Nursing program is why I chose to continue my education in GNTC’s ASN program,” Garland said. “I knew it would be difficult being a single mother. I knew I would have access to helpful programs, and having a relationship with my instructors would be a key to my success.” 

Garland, a single mother, said she benefited greatly from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program.

WIOA is a work training program that helps eligible students learn new skills for tomorrow’s workforce. WIOA may pay a small travel stipend or assist with child care expenses to those who qualify; the federally-funded program may also pay for tuition, fees, books, supplies and/or other related materials that fall within program limits.

Garland selected her lab times and had supportive instructors, she said.

“I had some friends who attended larger schools and were unsuccessful,” she explained. “They had large class sizes and no relationship with their instructors.” 

Garland is also one of GNTC’s recent ASN graduates who has passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) at a much higher rate than in 2021.

Twenty-one students graduated May 5, 2022. Eighteen of them, along with a 2021 graduate who took the exam for the first time this summer, passed the exam on their first attempt. One of the 2022 graduates passed the exam on second attempt, raising the passing rate for this year’s test-takers from 86% to nearly 91%.

“The NCLEX is a standardized test used nationwide as a way for states to verify nursing knowledge and gauge competency to practice as a nurse,” saidMichelle Spears-Sevy, ASN program director and instructor at GNTC. “It tests general knowledge of health maintenance and disease progression, diagnostic procedures and the ability to use clinical judgment to make decisions to ensure patient safety.”

All ASN program graduates are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.

Regardless of any degree earned, a person cannot practice as a nurse without passing the NCLEX-RN and receiving a license, Spears-Sevy said. When graduates have been licensed, they may practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) in the state in which the license is granted. Students that graduate from GNTC’s Practical Nursing program qualify to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam for licensure as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).

GNTC’s ASN program is housed on the Walker County Campus in Rock Spring.

Founded in 1962, Georgia Northwestern Technical College is celebrating 60 years of providing quality workforce education to the citizens of northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma or a certificate in aviation, business, health, industrial or public service career paths. This past year, 11,134 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. GNTC has an annual credit enrollment of 8,528 students and an additional enrollment of 2,606 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training and Georgia Quick Start. For more information about GNTC, visit us at www.GNTC.edu. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.