RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Cheers, roses and a special pin were handed out to Wake Tech nursing students Friday as they traded in their books for scrubs and prepare to enter the health care workforce.

For some students like Grace Fazekas, it’s a milestone she wasn’t sure she’d reach.

“Last year I actually got diagnosed with cancer so that was super hard so I had to take a year off of school but now I’m back and I’m doing healthy,” said Grace Fazekas, a nursing student.

“It’s been a long time coming with the cancer and having to take time off school, so a year ago we would’ve never known that she’d make it this far,” said Mary Bodmer, Fazekas’ mother.

Fifty-seven soon-to-be graduates of Wake Tech’s nursing program received pins Friday signifying taking the next step in their careers.

It comes as the nursing profession is experiencing major staffing shortages nationwide. However, the students said the demand and high stress of the job is worth it if it means being able to help people in need.

“I’m just really proud of myself for having a great last semester and being able to get out there and be the nurse this year and not the patient,” said Fazekas.

The students said they’re also excited to hit the ground running and hopefully help put an end to the pandemic.