EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Graduates from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Hunt School of Nursing celebrated with a commencement ceremony with friends, family and loved ones Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Plaza Theatre in Downtown El Paso.

The Hunt School of Nursing graduated 82 students: 73 from the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program and nine from the Registered Nurse to B.S.N. program.

The majority of Hunt School of Nursing students are local residents hailing from El Paso, and 84 percent are Hispanic. According to the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, less than 6 percent of registered nurses in the nation are Hispanic.

The state of Texas is projected to face a shortfall of nearly 16,000 registered nurses by 2030, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. West Texas is facing a nurse shortage of over 3,000 nurses, according to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies.

Since opening in 2011, more than 1,170 nurses have graduated from the Hunt School of Nursing, with 90 percent staying in the region. As a result, the number of registered nurses in the county has increased by 45 percent, according to a release sent out by Texas Tech.