Two women in caps and gowns

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Jackie Mayfield and Benita Sparrow each made a commitment to graduate from Texas State Technical College.

The LVN to RN Transition Nursing Program graduates had time to think about that commitment every time they started their vehicles to begin the trip to Sweetwater while they were students. Mayfield drove 350 miles one way from her Longview home to attend school, while Sparrow drove 229 miles, also one way, from Lancaster.

Mayfield and Sparrow recently joined their classmates for the final time at a pinning ceremony and at TSTC’s West Texas spring commencement.

“This is a surreal moment for me because the long journey is complete,” Sparrow, who is a school nurse with Lancaster ISD, said. “Both my family and my work family were supportive of me. When my office door was locked, everyone knew I was taking a test. My three boys and my husband were a constant encouragement.”

Mayfield said being a graduate of the program completed a goal that she had set for herself years ago.

“I have not walked the graduation stage in over 30 years, so this is a wonderful feeling,” she said.

Winona Proctor, an LVN to RN Transition Nursing Program instructor, said Mayfield and Sparrow were not alone in having long drives to Sweetwater.

“The average drive time for many of our students is three hours, and that is one way,” she said. “They are having to pay for hotels to be here multiple days, which takes its toll on not only the students, but their families. But graduation day is their payoff, and we are excited for them.”

The drive was not the only long journey for the two nurses.

“I became a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) 21 years ago, and it was a goal I set for myself to become a registered nurse,” Sparrow said. “As a family, we decided it was time for me to finish that dream. I wanted to show my three sons that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.”

Mayfield said being a registered nurse was something that she had wanted to accomplish as well. She became an LVN 30 years ago.

“I wanted to advance myself and follow up on my commitment to become a registered nurse,” she said. “This was the right time for me to do that.”

The graduates said having instructors who showed compassion and offered assistance any day of the week made it easier on them.

“They were always there for any of us,” Sparrow said. “We could ask a question, and a quick chat would happen.”

“By answering so many calls, the instructors wanted us to be successful,” Mayfield said.

Looking back, Sparrow said she is grateful for the extra effort that TSTC staff members gave to ensure that she could enroll in the program on time.

“To show the commitment of TSTC, I attended the last information session prior to the registration deadline,” she said. “The staff worked with me because I only had 24 hours to complete all of my paperwork. I was able to do that because TSTC wants us to be successful.”

The need for registered nurses in the state of Texas was expected to increase 17% between 2020 and 2030, according to The website showed that the average median salary for registered nurses is $85,110 in the state.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing at its Harlingen and Sweetwater locations. A Vocational Nursing certificate of completion is offered at the Breckenridge, Harlingen and Sweetwater locations.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. Learn more at

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Benita Sparrow (center) was joined by her sons, husband (second from right) and granddaughter during the LVN to RN Transition Nursing Program pinning ceremony in Abilene on April 26. Pictured are (left to right) Jaymir Sparrow, Jacque Sparrow, Benita Sparrow holding Yariyah Sparrow, Julian Sparrow and Jaylin Sparrow.
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Jackie Mayfield (left) is congratulated by Charlene Rice, a TSTC LVN to RN Transition Nursing Program instructor, during the April 26 pinning ceremony.
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