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story.lead_photo.caption Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe on Friday welcomes a group of Lincoln University School of Nursing students and faculty to his Missouri State Capitol office. Photo by Phillip Sitter / News Tribune.

Lincoln University School of Nursing students may have homes near or far, but all of them have bright futures, Missouri's lieutenant governor said Friday.

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe hosted a group of LU nursing students and faculty Friday at his Missouri Capitol office. The nursing school is celebrating its 50th anniversary and will mark the occasion with a scholarship-fundraising gala tonight, where Kehoe will speak.

The LU students at the Capitol reflected on why they've chosen nursing or LU's nursing program in particular.

Megan VanderFeltz, of Taos, is close to graduating, with her pinning ceremony set for Dec. 13.

VanderFeltz said LU's program is the best education in nursing around Missouri because teachers make themselves accessible, even outside of office hours.

She said she has a job lined up, with her first day to work at St. Mary's Hospital's intensive care unit to be Jan. 6, 2020. She probably will take her licensure exam in February, she said.

Sidney Sears, of Los Angeles, California, said a good nursing program at a historically black college or university appealed to her, and her teachers pushed her to be her best through addressing any mistakes made, she added.

Oshin Walker, of Jamaica, also said teachers at LU's nursing school drive their students to be the best. Walker said she did not look at any other nursing schools; a cousin told her about LU's program.

Jeffrey Hargrove is from Kansas, but he's spent a lot of his life living elsewhere around the world, including Saudi Arabia.

Hargrove lives just west of Jefferson City now, and nursing is his second career — his first was in environmental science-agriculture, working through LU as a community resiliency specialist.

He made the career switch after his first daughter was born 16 months ago with congenital conditions. He also was attracted to LU by its "reputation for putting out stellar students" and its collaboration with local health care facilities.

Ally Harris, of High Point, and Madelyn Kloeppel, of Westphalia, said LU is close to home.

Harris said she wants to be a labor and delivery nurse.

Kloeppel is currently a certified medical assistant at a nursing home, and she said she's learned a lot of new skills applicable to work through LU's program.

Kehoe told the group: "Demand and (the nursing school's) great reputation will land you great jobs."

He said nursing shortages are a common issue in the communities he visits throughout the state.

"We need all of you," Cole County Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman said. Bushman is also co-sponsoring tonight's gala and serves on the Board of Directors of Capital Region Medical Center.

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