MASON CITY, Iowa - After a little over a year of uncertainty, it's graduation season.
North Iowa Area Community College held their graduation ceremony a bit different than usual, as four smaller ceremonies were held throughout the day on Friday, based on specialty (health, career technical and arts & sciences).
In a way, Bella Flood says the pandemic helped a bit with her studies; the Charles City student had a lot of her classes online, which helped her save some gas money, and met in person for clinical experience and tests three times a week. However, there was a caveat when it came to practicing skills at home.
"They tried so hard to teach us skills through a camera and some in person, but it's completely different. I already did my EMT...you do all your hands on skills in person for hours and hours at a time, and we'd have 30 minutes to an hour to complete a skill and learn it by next week by ourselves at home. You don't have the equipment or dummies."
Despite these challenges, everyone pulled together as a team.
"My fall semester, I struggled pretty hard. All my girls got together and they were like, 'we're not going to let you fail.' We pulled in those hours and studied hard, and I made it, I'm still here. I got to help someone that was struggling this past semester, and it made feel really happy that I can give back to all these people that helped me when I was really struggling through it too."
Because of some prior unfortunate circumstances, this is Bella's first time walking for graduation.
"My last three years of high school, I was home schooled. Something happened where I wasn't able to graduate with my class, so I sat in the bleachers and watched them walk down. I didn't get to graduate for my CNA, and then last year, I had other studies that I completed that I didn't get to walk down either because of the pandemic."
Now, after all of the ups and downs of the previous two years, she's proud of her accomplishments, making life-long friends, and able to walk with her classmates. She's now looking forward to the future.
"When the pandemic started, I just got my CNA, so I never had that contact with people without a mask or a shield. I had that the entire time, so it will be interesting when hopefully someday, we can get rid of all of this and I can have face to face contact with people like before the pandemic."
Flood is not done with her NIACC education yet; she plans to return in the fall to receive her BSN.
To watch NIACC's graduation ceremonies from Friday, click here.