Pinning ceremony honors nursing graduates

December 12th, 2015 | SMWC

See photos of the ceremony on Flickr.



(l) Katie Graham, Tammy Popovich, Ashley Richey, Melissa Lemmons and Holly Lee.

For the first time, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College held a Nursing Pinning Ceremony for its inaugural nursing graduating class. This is a time-honored nursing tradition dating back to the 1800s. The moving ceremony signifies the completion of the Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Students received their pins December 11, 2015, the evening before the winter commencement.

This first class of nursing graduates completed the RN to BSN program through Woods Online. Graduating students are Katie Graham, Clinton, Ind; Holly Lee, Brazil, Ind; Melissa Lemmons, Terre Haute, Ind.; Tammy Popovich, Carlisle, Ind.; and Ashley Richey, Terre Haute, Ind.

Already experiencing the many demands of life as wives, mothers and nurses, each made sacrifices to be successful, by giving up time with friends and family to complete projects and papers. They all have passion for learning and a love of nursing.

“These students entered this program with excellent nursing skills,” said Marcia Miller, Ph.D., director of nursing. “The faculty’s vision was to transform them and make them comfortable and confident in skills that will expand their professional roles.”

The graduates were joined by family, friends, administrators and faculty. The pins, symbolizing the students’ accomplishments and specifically designed for SMWC, were presented by a family member of their choice.  Surrounded by the words Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, the center circle holds a lamp representing the lamp used by Florence Nightingale. The lamp depicts the meaning of nursing, with care and hope.

A nursing pin represents a badge of honor which is worn by nurses to identify the nursing school from which they graduated. It is presented to new graduates as a symbolic welcome into this highly respected profession.

The Ceremony was a time for celebration and reflection. Tammy Popovich offered her gratitude to the faculty. “On behalf of the first ever nursing class at SMWC, we thank you [faculty] for all of of your hard work, time, patience and expertise while launching the program from the ground up,” remarked Popovich.

During the Ceremony, the “Friend of Nursing” was awarded to Francis Edwards, SP, ’53 as a role model for educators and lifelong learning. As a new nursing program, the department needed to provide library resources. Edwards contributed more than 300 books, journal articles, research studies and pamphlets.

Katie Graham was presented the Outstanding Senior Scholarly Project award. The project required Graham to partner with a mentor and identify a Performance Improvement Project within her organization. She diagramed the process, researched best practices to resolve the issue and delivered a presentation outlining the solution to the process. As a result of her capstone project, Union Hospital Clinton is evaluating and implementing the process outlined by Graham.

Miller offered additional words of wisdom and encouragement to the graduates.

“We [faculty] need you to continue to preserve in order to help make healthcare more assessable, affordable and effective,” added Miller. “We want you to remember your values of social justice and life-long learning and continue to strengthen your voice for vulnerable populations. We want you to promote health for yourself, your family and your community.”  

The RN-BSN program at SMWC prepares women and men who hold an associate’s degree and nursing license to complete a bachelor’s degree and make a positive impact in their current nursing setting. Students will develop critical thinking skills, hone writing skills, gain leadership, teamwork and management skills, which will lead to improved problem solving and critical reasoning.

Nursing Pins
Nursing Pins

History of The Pin

The lamp on nursing pins symbolizes a lit lamp used by Florence Nightingale while caring for injured soldiers during the Crimean War. This lamp radiates the meaning of nursing, with care and hope.

The tradition of the nursing pin and the ceremonial pinning we know today, actually originated in the 1860s at the Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas Hospital in London. Having been recently awarded The Red Cross of St. George for her selfless service to the injured and dying in the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale chose to extend this honor to her most outstanding graduate nurses by presenting each of them with a medal for excellence.

The Wolverton Royal Hospital in England initiated the tradition of presenting all graduates with a badge. The first pin was presented to the graduating class of 1880 at the Bellevue Hospital of Nursing in New York City. The pin presented to graduates was both beautiful and symbolic. It featured a crane in the center for vigilance, encircled with a band of blue for constancy, and an outer band of red for mercy and relief of suffering. The practice of pinning new nurses was common in schools throughout the United Kingdom and North America by 1916.