Nursing pins presented to graduates at special ceremony

December 21st, 2016 | SMWC

Dawn Welch being presented with her nursing pin
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) nursing graduate Dawn Welch of Paris, Illinois, was presented with her nursing pin by daughter, Kate, also a nurse, during the Nursing Pinning Ceremony on Friday at SMWC.

By Dianne Frances D. Powell

A time-honored nursing tradition continued on Friday when online nursing graduates received their pins from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) in a moving ceremony at the College’s Le Fer Hall ballroom.

In the company of their family members, mentors and College faculty and staff, Shannon Buckingham of Terre Haute, Jennifer Balka of West Terre Haute, Donna Roseberry of Farmersburg, Samantha McCarty and Dawn Welch, both of Paris, Illinois, beamed with pride as they received their pins during the Nursing Pinning Ceremony.  

Especially designed for SMWC, the pin, which features a lit lamp in its center circle, celebrates the accomplishments of the nursing graduates. Surrounded by the words Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, the lamp represents the one used by Florence Nightingale while caring for injured soldiers during the Crimean War. Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, inspired the tradition of the nursing pin and ceremonial pinning in the 1860s.

At the event on Friday, the pins were presented to each graduate by a family member of their choice. For Welch, who already had more than 30 years experience as a registered nurse before completing her bachelor's degree, the choice was clear: her daughter, Kate, who is also a nurse. Welch presented Kate with her pin at her graduation three years ago.

Online nursing graduates
Online nursing graduates Dawn Welch of Paris, Illinois, Donna Roseberry of Farmersburg, Samantha McCarty of Paris, Illinois, Shannon Buckingham of Terre Haute, and Jennifer Balka of West Terre Haute, received nursing pins during a pinning ceremony Friday

“It’s been a long goal of mine to get my bachelor’s degree. To have a young nurse pin me, it’s just very special,” said Welch, a case management manager at Paris Community Hospital. Her goal was realized thanks to the support of her husband and her family members, she added.

She had high praises for the RN to BSN Woods Online program. “The faculty is very supportive," she said. “The program is very individualized. They know you,” she said.

“It’s a very friendly and encouraging atmosphere.”

As part of the poignant ceremony, the hands of these graduates – called to care for the sick – were blessed. Barbara Battista, SP, led the prayer and one-by-one, anointed the hands of the graduates.

Five of the 14 eligible December 2016 and May 2017 nursing graduates attended the ceremony. All in attendance completed the RN to BSN program through Woods Online. This program enables women and men who hold an associate’s degree and nursing license to complete a bachelor’s degree. A pinning ceremony for graduating campus nursing students is scheduled in the spring.

Nursing department Chairperson Marcia Miller, Ph.D., during her address told the graduates that the department put a lot of effort into helping students to aspire higher. “You came in as great nurses, and now, we want you to leave as scholars and leaders,” she said. “We’ve seen how you’ve grown.”

Donna Roseberry delivering a stirring speech
SMWC online nursing graduate Donna Roseberry of Farmersburg delivered a stirring speech heard by nursing professors, fellow graduates and their families at Friday's Nursing Pinning Ceremony at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Miller wished the graduates long and fruitful nursing careers. “We really do see you as change agents for the future,” she said. “We really do have confidence in your abilities to be a leader. We do see that you’ve already aspired higher by getting here and we do have confidence that you will take your organizations to that next level.”

Special awards were given during the ceremony. Dawn Welch and Samantha McCarty were awarded the Outstanding Senior Scholarly Project for their joint research on “Sepsis: Early Detection and Rapid Treatment.”

The nursing department also gave an award to an individual who has made valuable contributions to it. The Friends of Nursing Award was given to Simone Gehrke, assistant director of a local adult day care center, for her support of the nursing department and of nursing education in the Wabash Valley.

In a passionate speech on behalf of the students, student speaker Donna Roseberry thanked the faculty for the leadership and inspiration and the graduates’ family members for the sacrifices and support.

Then, she addressed her fellow graduates in attendance, all of whom were nurses prior to attending SMWC. “We came to the program with important jobs and passions in our respective areas,” she said. “But now we understand that we also have a voice.”

She encouraged fellow nurses to use that voice in professional practice. “Our voice makes us leaders,” she said.