Press Release
Posted December 23, 2021

Lorain County Community College honored 70 graduates of its nursing program this month during the recent virtual nurses pinning ceremony at LCCC. The class included 62 graduates from the main campus and 10 from the LCCC Bowling Green State University Firelands campus. Two graduates – Mia West and Madison Van Dine – were named as the Florence Nightingale Student Nurse Award for Nursing Excellence winners. LCCC nursing faculty voted on the winners for the award, which is given to a student at each location who demonstrates excellence in the clinical area caring for patients and as an emerging professional.

“Grit is the word that comes to mind when I think about this graduating class of nurses,” said Mary Grady, LCCC nursing programs administrator and professor. “Grit is the driving force that helps us follow our passions and accomplish our goals even when times get tough. This group of new graduates have the grit and passion to care for others during this global healthcare crisis.”

Van Dine, of Sheffield Village, who represented the main campus in receiving the Florence Nightingale award, demonstrated grit at every turn on her journey. She began nursing school at a four-year university but began struggling during the first year, suffering from severe depression and anxiety.

“It quickly became debilitating and took over my entire life,” Van Dine says. “It was a hard decision but I decided to move back home and try to pick up the pieces of my broken life.”

She enrolled at LCCC to finish her pre-nursing classes in March 2018 and found herself feeling at home and at ease.

“I instantly felt welcomed and heard when meeting with my advisor,” she says. “I still to this day believe that I went through the lowest point of my life to lead me to LCCC.”

Van Dine, who has accepted a position at Mercy Health as a labor and delivery nurse, has shared her struggles in nursing school on a YouTube channel in hopes of inspiring others on their journeys. She posts videos about how to organize yourself, how to study effectively, and how to overcome specific barriers. Van Dine now has more than 70,000 followers.

“Madison overcame hurdles while in the nursing program and instead of using those hurdles as stumbling blocks, she piled them together for steppingstones to success,” said assistant professor Hannah Patawaran. “She has an outreach not only to our LCCC students, but to nursing students worldwide.”

West, of Monroeville, who accepted the Florence Nightingale award on behalf of the BGSU-Firelands campus, said the COVID-19 pandemic made her journey challenging as well, but it never caused her to waiver on her path.

“There are some things in life that you just know,” West said. “I have wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember. That innate feeling coupled with my compassionate and empathetic personality helped foster a pathway toward becoming a nurse.”

West chose LCCC’s program because of its highly respected accreditation status, low tuition rates, and proximity to home. While enrolled, West quickly came to respect her instructors’ dedication and professionalism, especially as they navigated the hurdles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are so many professors, clinical instructors, lab instructors that made an immense impression on me and helped aid me in my success,” she said. “They did a great job at making accommodations so that we could safely continue moving through the program. I am sincerely grateful in their efforts and will continue to make them proud.”

LCCC Firelands nursing professor Sue Bialorucki is certain West, who accepted a position at a local hospital’s intensive care unit, will do just that.

“Mia demonstrated quiet, focused dedication and compassion with each patient,” Bialorucki said. “She was a quiet leader in the clinical group and she demonstrates many of the traits Florence Nightingale did.”

The nursing excellence award was created to recognize students who give back and exemplify the characteristics of Florence Nightingale. The well-known nurse focused her efforts on providing excellent care and developing professional training standards to improve the patients’ outcome and health care experience through the 1860s after the establishment of her nursing school in London.

Nursing pinning ceremonies are a long-standing tradition at nursing schools. The tradition became standard practice in U.S. nursing schools by 1916. The ceremony signifies the official acceptance into the sisterhood and brotherhood of nursing.

“There is no time in recent history that compares to what healthcare professionals are faced with right now and our nursing graduates deserve the utmost praise and gratitude from the community,” said LCCC President Marica J. Ballinger, Ph.D. “In just the last 10 years, more than 2,400 people have earned nursing degrees from LCCC, and because 90% of all LCCC graduates live and work in the region, the students trained in our programs become the nurses serving our community.”

LCCC’s nursing program provides a pathway to get students started on a career in nursing. This includes a short-term certificate in State Tested Nurse Assisting and a one-year certificate in Practical Nursing (LPN). From there students can advance their career with either the traditional Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or the Licensed Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse (LPN to RN) options. Paramedics looking to switch to a nursing career can do so by earning the associate degree in nursing through the Paramedic to Registered Nursing option.

LCCC’s nursing programs are designed to transfer seamlessly to these LCCC University Partnership programs for advanced training: bachelor of science in allied health from Youngstown State University and bachelor of science in nursing from both Ohio University and Western Governor’s University, along with a master’s degree in nursing from Western Governor’s University.

For more information on the LCCC nursing program, visit