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1st Accelerated BSN Cohort Graduates from UST’s Intensive, Immersive Program

A virtual pinning ceremony on August 16, 2021, commemorated the passage of 13 unique University of St. Thomas Houston graduates who went from students to nurses in one year. They are members of the first cohort belonging to the Peavy School of Nursing's Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program. The group emerged from their immersive experience triumphant and ready to provide patients with compassionate, competent care.

On the ABSN path, the graduates, who already had bachelor’s degrees in non-nursing fields, applied focus and dedication to complete their nursing education in only 12 months.

Dave Bhargav and Meliza Dueñez represent these outstanding new nurses and exemplify UST’s bold, fearless culture.

Dave Bhargav: From a Physical Therapist to a Nurse

In 2020, Dave Bhargav, PT, DPT, BSN, was a husband and father working as a physical therapist. But the desire to expand his patient offerings by becoming a nurse began to tug hard at him. So hearing about the shortage of nurses—and knowing that COVID wasn’t going to vanish anytime soon—Bhargav jumped at UST’s Accelerated BSN program.

“It was an intense year and very rewarding,” Bhargav said. “In only one year, I’ve become proficient in so many different things. The amount of knowledge and training that we have received is unbelievable. The program is founded on a holistic approach. It employs state-of-the-art technology, like virtual simulations and the latest cutting-edge technology used in surgical programs. It was awesome.”

Bhargav, an enthusiastic learner came to the U.S. from India when he was 11 and demonstrates incredible discipline. While in the ABSN program, he engaged full-time with the curriculum and worked full-time at a physical therapy clinic. He is grateful for his understanding and supportive family. Now, Bhargav is going for his master’s in nursing, ultimately aiming to be a family nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant.

Bhargav added, “To those who are considering studying to be a nurse, I would say to just jump in and get it done. Follow your dream.”

Meliza Dueñez: From an Elementary School Teacher to a Nurse

Meliza Dueñez, born and raised in Mexico until the age of 14, used her bachelor’s in education to teach elementary school. But, like Bhargav, becoming a nurse was on her mind. She even took some of the pre-requisites while teaching.

Dueñez said, “I decided to apply to the ABSN program because it offered a fast-paced learning experience, and I would be able to reach my goal of becoming a nurse and enter the workforce sooner than through a traditional BSN program. The fact that it’s a hybrid program was also appealing because I was able to dedicate more time to studying rather than driving back and forth for in-person lectures.”

As she moves forward, COVID-19 gives her even more drive.

“After attending clinicals for the past few months, we were able to get a glimpse of what the COVID-19 world is and what is going on in our Houston area hospitals. Entering the medical profession as the pandemic is still going on makes me feel like I will soon be able to make a difference. I know it will be challenging, but I love to help others, so I am ready to embark on this journey.”

1st Director of UST’s ABSN Program Observes Cohort’s Growth

The first Director of UST’s ABSN Program and now Division Dean for Undergraduate Programs, Claudine Dufrene, Ph.D, RN-BC, GNP-BC, CNE, said, “The students in the inaugural ABSN class have worked very hard and have paved the way for others to follow. It has been an honor and a privilege to observe their growth from their first day to their pinning.”

UST’s bold Accelerated BSN program offers admissions three times a year. For more information, go here.