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High School CNA Graduates Complete ROC Program

On July 28, nine high school students became the first graduates of the CNA program here at ROC. This is a very exciting step for these CNA graduates who get to move forward with their future healthcare careers. The CNA program prepares students to assist a professional nurse in direct client care. Read more below.

CNA graduates alongside their instructors.


“An aura of accomplishment was beaming if you walked into the Reno Orthopedic Center (ROC) on July 28, and for good reason. A group of nine talented high school CNA students all huddled around their final projects, giving them last-minute touches and admiring each other’s work. Their fellowship shines brighter than the early morning sun as it gleams through the window, and they know they’ve done it. Their entire summer has been leading up to this moment, and now it’s finally here. They’re the first high school graduates of the CNA program at ROC, and this celebration is for them.

Between waking up at five in the morning, to driving all the way to Sparks for clinicals, these students sidelined any summer plans they had to discover what working in allied health meant to each of them. The opportunity arose, and they took it with heart, supported by families, friends and instructors who respected their decision. They chose to take care of others as certified nursing assistants (CNA) rather than enjoying a traditional summer vacation, and that’s something to be proud of.

Megan Torres reflected on her motivation to volunteer for this opportunity when it arose.

“I think for a lot of us it was our families, and knowing people who were in the healthcare setting or people who needed help in our families. We thought that if we were able to help in some way that it would be inspiring to others, too,” she said.

A cake decorated with the words “Congrats CNAs of the Future” lay delectable on the table, with a miniature graduation cap and certification to round out its features. One by one, the names of these graduates are called, highlighting their achievement with a crisp piece of parchment held closely to their chest. A sprinkle of teardrops hit the ground, but not out of sadness, out of joy. They’re taking the next step in their professional careers.

“This experience confirmed to me my interest in healthcare, as well as made me excited about what is out there for me to learn and experience; to offer my highest knowledge and skills to those people that need it. I’ve learned what characteristics and skills it takes to be able to properly engage with a patient or resident, and that will stick with me throughout all of my future in healthcare,” said Maylyn Valdez, cultivating her eventual plans throughout the experience.

Perhaps even sweeter than the glazed strawberry cake was the moment that students and faculty decided to huddle together, hand-in-hand. “This is our strength,” whispered Sarah Hile, one of the lab instructors. At this moment, the love these students have for what they do, as well as the respect for their instructors, started reverberating within an impenetrable circle made up entirely of themselves. You had to have been there.

“This class has taught me so much, and the experience you get from it can help you in many ways,” said Charo Ortega. “You get ahead of the game, learn stuff before you graduate and really see if it’s for you. I would recommend taking it even if you’re not sure this is for you. That’s the way I felt, and now I know what I want.”

“The instructors were awesome. They were comprehensive and had the patience to walk you through everything. They made this class fun in a way where we would still learn. I’m beyond grateful for this experience, and I don’t regret anything,” Ortega continued, encouraging her fellow students to pursue programs in unfamiliar areas.”


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