Three graduate Gloucester apprenticeship program

Gloucester July apprenticeship cohort

Virginia Health Services celebrated its most recent class of apprentice graduates from the Gloucester program during a ceremony Tuesday, July 9, 2024, at Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Three students graduated from Care Assistants to Nurse Aides and will continue to serve on the team at Walter Reed. The earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program provides about six weeks of classroom and clinical skills training, in addition to on-the-floor experience, and covers the cost of the certification exam to be a CNA.

Walter Reed Administrator Bryant Hudgins welcomed friends and family to the ceremony.

“I started in the CNA class back in the stone age,” Bryant joked, “and it catapulted my career.”

Walter Reed Administrator Bryant Hudgins addresses the three graduates from the podium as instructor Tracy Williams looks on.
Walter Reed Administrator Bryant Hudgins welcomes the graduates and their friends and family during Tuesday’s ceremony.

Bryant worked his way from CNA to LPN and then served in various roles including MDS before becoming the licensed administrator for Walter Reed.

“These ladies have bright futures ahead in healthcare. Thank you all for supporting them,” he said. “This is just the beginning. We take great pride in providing a clinical site, and welcome them to the team.”

Gloucester graduates

The graduates — Jordan Hudnall, Kaeli Key and Candi Lewis — brought a sense of humor to the class, said Training and Education Coordinator Tracy Williams, MSN, BSN, RN.

They all wound up having personal connections to Tracy. She went to school with Kaeli’s father, lives down the street from Candi and worked with Jordan while she was a Care Assistant before the course started at Walter Reed.

“This was a very special class for me. They all learned quickly and excelled in clinicals and the classroom portion of the class,” Tracy said.

Jordan earned the Champion Award for excelling in class and connecting with the residents.

Candi was salutatorian and Kaeli was awarded valedictorian for top marks.

“I was extremely nervous — kind of like I am right now — and worried I would fail, but I was wrong. With the help of amazing teacher and two equally amazing classmates, I watched my confidence increase week after week,” Kaeli said in her valedictorian speech. “… Thank you, VHS, for offering this program, Tracy for being the best teacher we could have, and Candi and Jordan for being so supportive and all the laughs. We did it.”

Kaeli Key delivers valedictorian remarks to her classmates, who are all smiling.
Kaeli Key delivers valedictorian remarks and thanks her fellow graduates.

Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd closed the ceremony, thanking the graduates for choosing Virginia Health Services.

“You have a bright future, and exhibited a desire to serve and be there for residents,” Rebecca said. “Long-term care is hard, but very rewarding. You develop relationships and really care for people.”

Apprenticeship program

The next Gloucester-based apprenticeship course is slated for Aug. 5-Sept. 12. Applications are open and available at

The Peninsula-based program is underway, with graduation scheduled for Aug. 1. The next class is slated for Aug. 19-Sept. 26, and applications should open soon at


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