Inaugural class of nurses graduating from The Citadel May 4

The Citadel Photo

The Citadel’s first class of nursing students will accept their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees during commencement ceremonies on May 4, 2019. The group of 20 evening undergraduates, and one cadet nursing student, will share the honor of making history for the college as the inaugural nursing class.

Before graduating, they will take part in the college’s first Nurse Pinning Ceremony at 3:30 p.m. on Thurs., May 2, in Buyer Auditorium on campus. The ceremony is a long standing tradition in the nursing industry and represents a symbolic welcoming of new nurses into the profession.

Where they’re going next

Most members of the nursing Class of 2019 will remain in South Carolina, where, according to a projection by, one of the worst nursing shortages in America will take hold by 2030, topped only by New Jersey, Texas, and California.

Many in the class already have already accepted jobs. Others have secured positions for the next step in their educational careers. All 21 are committed to dedicating their futures to improving the health of others through caring and expertise, taking The Citadel’s core values of honor, duty and respect with them.

Meet some of the members of the Swain Department of Nursing Class of 2019

Emily Banks

Emily Banks Citadel Class of 2019 nursing student working at the VA medical center in Charleston. S.C.

Emily Banks, an evening undergraduate nursing student in The Citadel Graduate College Class of 2019, spent much of her time while away from class working as a student nurse technician at the Ralph A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston through a partnership the college has with the center. She’s originally from Toms River, New Jersey, but lives in Charleston now.

Banks’s next step? She earned one of 10 coveted positions with the Ralph A. Johnson VA Medical Center Post Baccalaureate Nurse Residency Program.

“Emily Banks will be part of our highly competitive, 12-month long nurse residency program which consists of both didactic and clinical experiences designed to enhance the nurse’s transition from new graduate to competent, professional nurse,” said Joyce McElroy, MSN, RN, CEN, CNE, nurse manager, nursing academic education at the Ralph A. Johnson VA Medical Center. “The Post Baccalaureate Nurse Residency program at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is the only nurse residency program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education in the state of South Carolina.”

Banks believes The Citadel’s partnership with the VA is key to her success. “It’s a perfect fit, and the college and the VA really support each other and the students.”

Cadet Abigail Koger

Cadet Abigail Koger (left)
Cadet Abigail Koger (left), with one of her Citadel nursing professors, Dr. Robin Matutina

Abigail Koger is The Citadel’s very first cadet nursing graduate. She studied on an accelerated schedule, and is graduating ahead of the others in the first class of cadet nurses because she already had many of the basic credits required.

Koger, who is from Taylors, South Carolina, says she is driven by the opportunity to help her community and save lives.

“I think future cadets should consider nursing at The Citadel because the instructors are phenomenal. I have been pushed beyond my limits and have grown so much as a result,” Koger said. “I also think The Citadel’s core values of honor, duty and respect instilled in every cadet combine perfectly with the field of nursing. For cadets, The Citadel is a very tough and challenging environment, but you grow so much as a person while being here, it really pays off.”

Samantha Lisek

Samantha Lisek, Citadel Class of 2019, nursing graduate
Samantha Lisek, Citadel Class of 2019, nursing graduate

“I want to be a nurse because my goal is to make a difference and a positive impact in patients’ lives every day. I have always enjoyed caring for others in need, said Samantha Lisek, Citadel Class of 2019 evening undergraduate nursing student. “It has been my dream since I was 12 years old to work or go to school at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).”

Lisek, a Greenwood, South Carolina, is fulling her dream right after graduation. She has a new job working as a nurse in the pediatric operating room at MUSC.

“Specifically, I wanted to be a nurse in pediatrics after witnessing the experiences of my 10 year old nephew, Thomas, who has had a brain tumor removed and multiple reconstructive surgeries at MUSC over seven years. My goal is to give back the excellent support and care my family received to the families of pediatric patients whom I will be caring for at MUSC,” Lisek said.

Tamar Sternfeld

Tamar Sternfeld is one of the first people to graduate from the Swain Department of Nursing at The Citadel. She is a member of the Evening undergraduate nursing Class of 2019.

Tamar Sternfeld will be working at the Medical University of South Carolina in the area of digestive health, as part of their New Grad Nurse Residency Program. She said the evening undergraduate program made it possible for her to pursue her dream of becoming a bedside nurse.

“Our nursing education at The Citadel is focused on teamwork and leadership, both of which will be highly utilized during my career as a nurse. The scheduling of classes made it possible for me to work, go to school, and be a mom, all at the same time,” Sternfeld said.

Information for prospective nursing students

The South Carolina Board of Nursing approved The Citadel’s new program in the fall of 2016. First, the evening undergraduate nursing students (non-cadet) began taking classes in the summer of 2017 through the 2 + 2 program. The evening nursing students earn their required general education and prerequisite courses at a other institutions, most often a community college, then complete their nursing degree at The Citadel.

The first class of cadet nursing students began their four years of study in the fall of 2017. This traditional four-year baccalaureate program is available to students in the Corps of Cadets, as well as veteran students.

The mission of the Swain Department of Nursing is to educate and develop cadets and students to become principled leaders in the healthcare environment and profession of nursing by incorporating The Citadel’s core values of honor, duty and respect into the learning experience. The program was made possible through the vision and generosity of the Swain family, after whom the department, and the Swain School of Science and Mathematics are named.

The curriculum follows guidelines developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in The Essentials for Baccalaureate Nursing Education and incorporates competencies from the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses initiative.

For more information, or to apply to study nursing at The Citadel, please email or call (843)953-1630.