The following contribution is courtesy of Jon Vickers, academic counselor in the Department of Nursing.
On Thursday, Dec. 15, graduating nursing students were recognized at Stella Boyle Hall for their achievements during a pinning ceremony. Serving as a symbolic rite of passage from nursing student to nursing professional, this intimate setting provided closure on an intensive program, resulting in tears of joy from students, family members, and yes, even faculty.
The ceremony began as graduates and their person of choice proceeded to the stage. While faculty assisted with contacts and guidelines, the students themselves did almost all of the planning. Christina Wetta, a December graduate who organized the event, began with a brief speech on what it was like to go through nursing school and the history of the pinning ceremony.
The pinning ceremony has been a tradition that dates back to the Crusades with the modern ceremony going back to the 1860s, when Florence Nightingale was awarded the Red Cross of St. George in recognition for her tireless service to the injured during the Crimean War. To share the honor, she in turn presented a medal of excellence to her brightest graduates. By 1916, the practice of pinning new graduates was standard throughout the U.S.
As the program progressed, so did the need for Kleenex. Each student selected one family member who helped them through his or her journey. Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children and friends took turns at the center of the stage pinning the graduate while faculty read statements and stories prepared by students.
Each one with a different story, different background, different motives, all coming together to help each other succeed. While the student was the one being recognized for their achievement, it was clear they all wanted to acknowledge those close to them for making sacrifices and motivating them to finish.
At the end, graduating student Laura Fout thanked a few specific faculty members on behalf of her class for their dedication, attention to detail with documentation, tough grading, preparation, and not being quite as scary as they seemed when they started. She saved a special thank you for instructor Missy Carmack. “And to Ms. Carmack, thank you for being the nurse that I hope to be someday.” (Cue the waterworks.)
After the pinning, Dr. Preston Molsbee recited the Nightingale Pledge, and Ms. Carmack lit a symbolic lamp. Most faculty have fond memories of their own pinning ceremony, stating it was more memorable than graduation because it was just for nursing students. The ceremony was followed by a reception.
These recent graduates still have one last step before serving the community as our future nurses. All the students will be busy studying for the NCLEX-RN state board exam. UALR has boasted one of the top pass rates in the state and is confident in this group of students. We are very proud of our graduates and wish them luck with all future endeavors.