ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Saint Anthony College of Nursing held a graduation ceremony Friday at the Tebala Event Center to celebrate the success of its latest crop of graduates.

More than 40 students walked across the stage. Many will now take their license exams and start their careers, others will continue their education.

“We have 39 undergraduate students, 3 Masters Science Nursing, and then 13 DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) students. So, we are excited to see them all graduate today, definitely been a long time coming, even through COVID, it’s an extra special event today,” said recruiter Alina Llanas.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts more than 500,000 nurses will retire next year, and more than 1 million are needed to make up the difference.