Two hundred and fifty-one students graduated from the Georgetown School of Nursing on Thursday. This number comprises 110 professionally registered nurses, 56 midwives and 85 nursing assistants.Leola Charles, a graduate from the Professional Nursing Programme of the Georgetown School of Nursing, and now a registered nurse, has emerged as the 2018 valedictorian. Charles, along with others, received special awards for their outstanding performances and special skills demonstrated throughout their course of studies.This year’s graduation marks the school’s 31st Biennial ceremony, where scores of young professionals have received certification to provide services in the public health sector. The graduation exercise was hosted at the National Cultural Centre.In her valedictory speech, Charles encouraged her batch along with those who have completed other programmes, to be trailblazers in their respective fields, as they transition fully into the world of work.“Let us leave a trail that others will be proud to follow. Class of 2018, as graduates, we face many uncertainties in both the immediate and distant future; however, it’s up to us to make a difference to have people say honourable things about us and leave the impression that you never gave up on yourself,” Charles is quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying.Charles was the recipient of the Public Health Minister’s Award and the first-ever PAHO/WHO award among several others in recognition of her stellar performanceValedictorian Leola Charles receives her award from Public Health Minister Volda Lawrenceboth in theory and clinical practices.In her address to the gathering, Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence said since her appointment to the sector, she has worked assiduously with the faculty of health sciences and education to make necessary changes to nursing education.To this end, the Minister expressed her confidence in the graduating batch’s preparedness to be deployed into the public health system. She further added that the citizens of Guyana can be reassured of quality health services being delivered to them by these professionals.The graduates were also encouraged to demonstrate an excellent level of patient care as they all have an important role to play as servants in the public health sector.“We at the Ministry recognise that you are the pillars of a sustainable and an effective health system the core of the next generation of nurses on whom Guyana will depend for a resilient and robust health structure,” Minister Lawrence said.Midwife Ann Ferguson-Goppy, registered Nurse Melissa Emanuel and Nursing Assistant, Sherl Daniels, all excitedly highlighted their journey to completing their individual programmes.The graduation ceremony saw several persons from this year’s batch receiving special awards in the areas of interpersonal skills, management and leadership qualities and overall outstanding performances in theoretical studies and clinical practices.Among those graduating was Batch 125A, who was a part of approximately 200 students, who retook the State Final Examinations and attained 100 per cent passes in 2017. This batch received timepieces compliments of PAHO/WHO in recognition of their overwhelming performance.The Georgetown-based nursing school have over the years been hit by many controversies. Last year, 150 students who wrote the nursing exams, which were allegedly compromised, had to rewrite the exams.An investigation was launched after it was reported that the nurse’s examination papers were leaked before the sitting and assessment of 250 nursing students.