It was a well deserved night of celebration for 76 Brookdale graduates on May 16, as friends, family and community members packed into the Collins Arena for the Spring 2016 Nurses Pinning Ceremony.
After receiving their diplomas three days earlier, the graduates were presented with official Brookdale nurses pins and recognized by faculty, staff and administrators for completing one of the college’s most demanding courses of study.
“I personally want to thank you for taking on such a challenging program,” said Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy. “You have sacrificed so much, but the sacrifice is worth it. The world needs you. The world needs healers… As you go out into the world, remember that Brookdale Community College is here for you. We are here to support your journey in every way possible.”
The ceremony began with remarks by 2016 graduate Teresa Weisneck, who recalled her experience as a young, single mother attempting to balance family life and a full-time job with the rigors of the nursing program.
“This is something I have dreamed about for many years, and it has seemed impossible at times. I know for sure I am not the only one in this room who has felt like that,” Weisneck said. “We should be very proud of where we are now. We have put in countless hours of dedication toward this career and many sleepless nights. We have all struggled to get to this point in one way or another. But we made it. We pushed through and we made it.”
Acknowledging that hard work, Brookdale Health Sciences Institute Dean Jayne Edman encouraged the graduates to savor the moment and take pride in how far they had come in two short years.
She also recognized the dedication of the nursing faculty and staff who had worked alongside the students through exams, practical exercises, clinical training and the other demands of the program.
“Every day as you dress for work and put your pin onto your uniform, you will remember both sides of this equation,” Edman said. “The pin symbolizes that we are always linked together in a shared commitment to quality health care in the communities we live and work in.”
The ceremony also featured a keynote address by assistant nursing Professor Diane Booker, who was selected by the graduating class to serve as guest speaker. Congratulating the graduated on their hard-earned achievement, Booker encouraged the class of 2016 to continue learning, growing and developing as medical professionals throughout their careers.
“For some of you, this is your second career. For others, you may be the first in your family to attend college. But you have all arrived here, and now you are graduate nurses,” she said. “Let this journey take you to new places, open new doors, and allow you to grow as a person and as a professional… Don’t forget that we will always be here for you.”
Booker also recognized the members of the Brookdale Student Nurses Association, which received the 2016 Gold Star Award for Best Overall Club.
The graduates then stepped to the podium one by one – eliciting roars from the capacity crowd – to affix an official Brookdale nursing pin to the lapel of one of their classmates. Nursing Director Mary Ehret and professor Robin Smith also recognized 11 students who were inducted into the Alpha Delta Nu Nursing Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Chapter, for maintaining a 3.0 GPA and completing health-centered community service projects for local students, community members and senior citizens.
The pinning ceremony concluded with a surprise presentation to nursing faculty member Robin Torpey, who couldn’t attend her own pinning ceremony when she graduated from nursing school in 1997. Brooke Torpey – Robin’s daughter and a 2016 Brookdale nursing graduate – presented her mother with a Brookdale nursing pin, eliciting a standing ovation from the crowd.
Farewell addresses were provided by 2016 graduates Julian Yu and Kara Kendall, who thanked their families, friends, faculty and their Brookdale “nursing family” for guiding them through some of their lowest moments in the program. That spirit of giving, compassion and understanding, Kendall said, is the same spirit that is going to make the Class of 2016 stand out in the future.
“Even though Brookdale’s nursing program is not easy, it has some of the most rewarding outcomes,” Kendall said. “Most of the hospitals in the area are willing and look forward to hiring new Brookdale graduates every semester. I know a few students, along with myself, that have already be asked or recruited for a position.
“But nursing is more than just a profession to us. It’s our passion,” she added. “Nursing is not about the pills, it’s not about the charting. It’s about being able to love people when they are at their weakest moments. So thank you, and congratulations Class of 2016. We did it.”
View the full list of graduates and Pinning Ceremony speakers here.
Learn more about Brookdale’s nursing program here.
Check out more photos of the pinning ceremony here.