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First group of nursing grads leaves OC with bachelor’s degrees

Eleven pioneering graduates from Olympic College (OC) were among the first group of students to obtain bachelor’s degrees from the school, possibly opening the door to more programs in the future.

Geri Babbo, OC associate dean of nursing, said the program was designed to help Registered Nurses (RNs) who currently have associate’s degrees earn their bachelor’s degrees in two to three years.

The money was allocated by the Washington Legislature this year to make baccalaureate programs through large universities available in Bremerton, according to Babbo, but there was competition for the programs.

“There was a competitive process that we had to go through with the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC),” Babbo said. “There were actually four baccalaureate degree programs issued, and OC was one of them, and the only one that did nursing.”

The intention was to give working RNs who may have additional roles, like parent or spouse, the ability to earn a higher degree even with a hectic schedule and without commuting, according to Babbo.

“If they wanted to complete their degree they would have to cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge or take a ferry and that can get really expensive,” she said. “We wanted to meet that need here in our community so students can complete their degrees on two- or three-year completion plans.”

There will be an additional option next year for students who have more time for school, according to Babbo.

“This next year, they will have a one-year option,” she said. “So obviously you wouldn’t be able to work full-time. You would be going to school full-time, but it is another option.”

In the future, OC also could offer a University of Washington-Tacoma master’s degree in nursing, Babbo said.

Nursing degrees also could be just the beginning of the educational opportunities at OC.

A study is being conducted by the University of Washington as to whether or not it should offer business and engineering degrees, according to OC spokeswoman Jennifer Hayes.

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