KILGORE, Texas (KETK) – Around two dozen nursing students at Kilgore College walked across the stage on Thursday morning.

The students overcame much adversity because of the pandemic, however, many graduates have a job already lined up due to nursing jobs being in high demand.

“I’ll be working at a local hospital in the surgical ICU,” said graduate Vickie Timmons. “And of course passing the state boards is the next big step.”

These students didn’t have a traditional nursing experience as much of their education was altered. One graduate said she had scars on her face from having to wear masks for 12 hours straight.

“We had a lot of challenges with the hospitals not letting us come in and do clinical because everybody was in quarantine and at that point we didn’t really know the importance of the dangers of the COVID at the time,” said Timmons.

Despite the adversity, the nursing students remained resilient.

“If anything it made us as a class stronger. Because we knew we were here for a reason and that’s because of the patients. It gave us a different perspective of patient care and empathy and just being there to support them,” added Timmons.

Texas ranks #2 behind California in the highest registered nurses employment levels with more than 200,000 registered nurses in the state.