Oakton College recognizes record number of high school students for completion of basic Nurse Assistant Training Program

The students earned early college credit and a certificate, which qualifies them to work as a nurse’s assistant.

Oakton College celebrated a milestone achievement as 83 high school students received a Basic Nurse Assistant Training (BNAT) Certificate, May 22. The program not only awards completers early college credit but also opens the door to promising careers in healthcare. The BNAT program is part of Oakton’s Dual Credit program, with courses taught in high school classrooms by Oakton-approved high school teachers.

The graduation and pinning ceremony at Oakton’s Des Plaines campus honored BNAT completers from Maine East, Maine South, Maine West, Niles North and Niles West high schools. The event served as a symbolic welcome into the nursing profession, marking the beginning of their journey toward healthcare excellence.

“As you start the next phase of your educational journey, you already have college credit on your transcript and a credential that qualifies you for immediate work. Very impressive!” said Anne O. Brennan, Oakton’s assistant vice president of Academic Affairs & College Transitions, during the ceremony.

Student speakers at the event included Mary Ishak from Skokie, representing Niles Township high schools, and Maura Lawlor from Park Ridge, representing Maine Township high schools.

Three Maine East students, from left, Nataly Escobedo, Nicholas Koryarklang and Ashley Palma celebrate their decision to pursue nursing at Oakton with Oakton’s President Joianne L. Smith, Ph.D., second from left. Courtesy of Oakton College

Six BNAT graduates have already committed to continuing their nursing studies at Oakton. Oakton's Nursing Program is a top choice among the approximately 100 Illinois Board of Nursing-approved schools offering associate degrees in nursing. Ranked No. 6 and recognized as a leading associate degree in nursing program in Cook County, Oakton thoroughly prepares students for the nursing profession.

Students completing the associate in applied science (A.A.S.) in nursing at Oakton can begin practicing nursing immediately. Additionally, they will be ready to transfer to a four-year college or university to pursue their bachelor's degree through one of Oakton's many RN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) transfer partnerships.

Sean Hamilton, a Maine South High School student, receives his pin. Courtesy of Oakton College

This fall, the BNAT Dual Credit program will grow as Evanston Township High School students will join the program for the first time. Oakton offers multiple avenues for earning early college credit, including the Dual Credit and Concurrent Enrollment Programs. Through these initiatives, students can access college-level classes and experiences, setting the stage for their academic and professional futures.

For information on Oakton’s Early College Program and available opportunities, please visit

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