Surrounded by a near-capacity crowd of friends and family members gathered in the Collins Arena, 67 Brookdale nursing students capped of years off hard work on Jan. 5 by receiving their ceremonial nurse’s pins.
The pins, which have been awarded to the college’s nursing graduates since 1971, will unite the students as Brookdale alumni as they enter the workforce, transfer to bachelors degree programs and go on to make a positive difference in the world, said Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy.
“I want to thank you for having the courage to step up and really engage in the most rigorous program we have here at Brookdale Community College,” Murphy said. “Your success is our success. It’s what makes us most proud. I look forward to seeing what you do in the future, and I wish you Godspeed in your journey.”
Graduate Matthew Walsh welcomed the crowd to the ceremony, jokingly reminiscing on the endless wave of coursework, exams and demanding clinical work that led up to it. While each graduate had at times faced a “flight or flight” response during the course of the program, Walsh said they were all better off for having chosen to fight through it.
“It shaped us to be better nurses for the future, and to make a positive difference and impact on society,” said Walsh, one of nine graduates to be inducted in the Alpha Sigma Chapter of the Alpha Delta Nu Nursing Honor Society as well. “The Brookdale faculty truly give it their all, and we are grateful for that.”
Science and Health Sciences Dean Jayne Edman echoed Walsh’s sentiments, encouraging the graduates to take a step back and appreciate all they have accomplished.
“It’s an overwhelming feeling, how much you have learned and how much you have grown,” Edman said. “You really deserve to be congratulated for that, and you deserve to celebrate that.”
Professor Gail Harrigan, chosen by the graduating class as this year’s keynote speaker, spoke about the need for lifelong learning, encouraging the graduates to continue growing and developing as nurses throughout their careers.
“These elements are like dance steps, learned in isolation,” she said. “You may still feel awkward and out of step when the music is actually playing … But our teachers, guides and our practice make us better dancers. You already know great nurses whose ability to dance makes an enormous difference in the care they give their patients. As you move through your years as a nurse, I hope you dance too.”
Following the presentation of the pins by Nursing Director Mary Ehret and the Fall 2014 graduating class, graduates Kelly Layton and Jaclyne Engert bid an official farewell to their classmates, but not before thanking the gathered friends and family for their undying support.
“As I look at you tonight, I wonder how many dinners were missed, how many games were not attended, and how often your family’s nursing student was locked in his or her room preparing for another exam,” Engert said. “We have been exhausted, stressed, worried, upset. I’m sure we’ve given you an earful, but we apologize and we thank you for standing by our side.
“Through it all, we have done things we never thought we could,” Engert added, addressing her fellow graduates. “We have overcome boundaries that seemed impossible. But graduation is not the end for us. It is the beginning. Become good at what you do, enjoy what you do, and enjoy your journey. Congratulations.”
Melissa Kerr, vice president of the Brookdale Student Nurses’ Association, served as master of ceremonies for the program. Also in attendance were Dr. Richard Fulton, interim executive vice president of educational services, and associate nursing professor Robin Smith.
Check out more photos of the ceremony here.
For more information on Brookdale’s acclaimed nursing program, click here.