Fifty-six graduates of the Brookdale nursing program were officially recognized for their achievements on Jan. 4 during an honorary pinning ceremony held in the Collins Arena.
The future nurses came together in front of a capacity crowd of friends and family to place official Brookdale nursing pins on their fellow graduates, a tradition that has been carried by each graduating class since the Brookdale nursing program was established in 1971.
According to Health Sciences Institute Dean Jayne Edman, the tradition of donning a nurse’s pin may extend as far back as the 12th century, when medics in the Crusades brandished red crosses to identify themselves. Over the last 45 years, she added, the Brookdale pin has become a symbol of compassion, knowledge and high quality care to patients across the state and across the nation.
“Our community members trust and depend on Brookdale nurses. Area hospitals are eager to have Brookdale nurses on staff. That is what this pin represents,” Edman said, explaining that Brookdale’s nursing program is one of the highest rated programs of its kind in the nation. “You are joining that tradition. And you should be very proud of what you have accomplished.”
The ceremony also featured inspiring testimonials from many of this year’s graduates, including Kayla Frederick – who battled her way through a cancer diagnosis while entering the final year of the program – and Kathryn Healy, a wife and mother of five who somehow found the time and energy to complete Brookdale’s most demanding course of study.
Many speakers, including Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy and nursing department chair Bonnie Ross, commented on the rigorous nature of the nursing program, which includes extensive coursework as well as long hours of hands-on clinical training in area medical centers.
Murphy and Ross commended the graduates for seeing the program through to the end, and encouraged them to continue working, learning and growing as they prepare for their official licensing exam and ultimately join the medical field as registered nurses.
“Keep learning. Face your challenges head-on. Don’t be afraid to confront difficult situations,” said Ross, who was selected by the class to serve as guest speaker at the ceremony. “To quote Carolyn Jarvis, ‘The character of the nurse is as important as the knowledge he or she possesses.'”
In addition to the nursing pins, eight graduates also received honorary pins for serving as members of the Alpha Delta Nu Nursing Honor Society, Alpha Sigma chapter.
“This was not easy, and we fought every step of the way to be here today,” said graduate Jodie Nolte, one of many student speakers to remark on the long road between the first day of classes and this final, celebratory occasion.
If it weren’t for the undying support of family, friends, faculty, staff and classmates, Nolte said, they may have never made it through.
“We may have given up at some point for even just a moment … But standing here today, all we can say is thank you. If this had been easy, it wouldn’t feel as good as it does today. Congratulations nurses. We did it.”
Jamie Schaale, president of the Brookdale Student Nurses Association, served as master of ceremonies for the event, while nursing graduate Michele McDonald led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Brookdale nursing director Mary Ehret led the graduates in the pinning ceremony, and Alpha Delta Nu faculty advisors Gail Harrigan and Robin Smith presented the honor society pins.
Also in attendance were Dr. Matthew Reed, Brookdale’s vice president for learning, and Brookdale Board of Trustees members Tracey Abby-White, Francis Bret Kaufman and graduate trustee Paul Geissler.
For the full list of graduates, view the January 2016 Pinning Ceremony Program here.