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School of Nursing Graduation Launches Careers of 85 Caring Men and Women
May 03, 2024

Graduate Samuel Kucsan was pinned by his 90-year-old grandmother, Bernice Kucsan.

Graduation from St. Luke’s School of Nursing on April 11, for the 85 men and women who are now newly minted nurses, was the pinnacle of achievement, holding immense meaning and bold memories for them as they navigate their paths to joining the world’s most trusted profession.

For John Scheetz, of Alburtis, the evening was bitter-sweet, serving up one of his life’s proudest—and saddest—moments.

For the EMT and former Air Force medic, being chosen by his classmates as their graduation speaker was a great honor, reversing his history of false starts at formal education.

“It was the culmination of a 25-year journey for me,” said the 48-year-old who served for three years in the military. “Except for basic training, this was the first time I’ve ever graduated from school on time.”

Honored to be addressing his fellow grads and their guests, Scheetz took this role as seriously as he did his studies and family responsibilities, balanced deftly over the past 20 months. He described his speech as a blend of “uplifting and motivational with flecks of humor here and there.”

“Thank you for your commitment to our future,” he told the school’s teachers and administrators, along with his and his classmates’ families.

He regaled the audience with tales—some light, some not— of his journey in nursing school, and told his classmates how he loves them and will miss them when they move on. Meanwhile, Scheetz pictured his late father, John Scheetz, Jr., who passed away from cancer last December, seated with his family in the audience, spellbound at his son’s dual achievements of becoming a nurse and a guest orator.

“I wish I could have seen him there. I know he’d be proud of me.”

Fittingly, his classmates gifted him a standing ovation, bringing tears to Scheetz’s eyes.

The highlight of the ceremony for graduate Samuel Kucsan and his family was him being pinned by his 90-year-old grandmother, Bernice Kucsan.

“It was wonderful,” said Samuel, of Fogelsville. “We were all very happy.”

His parents, grandfather and girlfriend shared the joy of the moment, sitting with Bernice in the row right behind the last row of graduates.

An alumna of the school, the oldest nursing school in the country, Bernice graduated in 1954. Besides working at St. Luke’s as a nurse, she also had led the school’s alumni association for several years.

The school, and memory of her own pinning 70 years ago, are near and dear to her – and sweeter in knowing her grandson would be carrying on the family’s legacy there.

“When he told me he wanted to be a nurse, I told him, ‘You will graduate from St. Luke’s, and I will pin you,” said Bernice with a chuckle.

And the audience responded to the special twist on the traditional pinning ceremony by applauding mightily.

“It was a special time for all of us,” Bernice added.

Best friends Quinn Langen and Naomi Scarmack celebrated their graduation together after spending most of their waking moments side-by-side during the arduous training.

The two Easton High School grads became known as “the twins” to their classmates and the staff on the sixth floor Trauma Unit at St. Luke’s Bethlehem, where they worked as patient care assistants when they weren’t in school.

"We’re always together,” Langen said with a wide smile.

They’re grateful for St. Luke’s tuition reimbursement program, which they learned about fortuitously from Langen’s “aunt,” Rebecca Nowery, assistant vice president of Employee Relations at SLUHN. The popular, selective program paid for their schooling in exchange for part-time work during for those 20 months and a commitment to remain with the Network for two years after graduation.

“We don’t have any loans to pay off, and we both want to work here, anyway,” agreed the nurses, both who graduated cum laude and will take their boards soon.

“It was an intense and rigorous, but great, program,” Langen added.

“We’re both so glad we chose St. Luke’s School of Nursing over other area schools,” affirmed Scarmack.

This sentiment, no doubt, is shared by all who made the rewarding journey with them and now are launching their own nascent careers as professional nurses.

Graduation from St. Luke’s School of Nursing
Graduation from St. Luke’s School of Nursing