Feature Stories 2022: Graduates of the accelerated BS in nursing program are encouraged to always continue learning

Nursing students holding candles before Pinning Ceremony
Graduates of the accelerated BS in nursing program gather prior to the start of the Pinning Ceremony to celebrate the completion of their nursing degrees.
Feature Stories 2022: Graduates of the accelerated BS in nursing program are encouraged to always continue learning
Graduates of the accelerated BS in nursing program are encouraged to always continue learning

In Pinning Ceremony, graduates celebrate the completion of their nursing degrees

The holiday season will be extra-special for graduates of the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) Program at UMass Dartmouth.

In a time-honored festive ceremony, sprinkled with some holiday cheer, ABSN students in Cohort 6 received their nursing pins last Wednesday from their families and faculty as they completed their nursing degrees in 18 months.

“The energy in this room is so positive and fantastic,” said Dr. Lisa Dumont, clinical assistant professor and coordinator of the ABSN program. “This is a time of celebration of all you have accomplished and a time of gratitude for all of those who helped you work toward your dreams of becoming a nurse. We, as faculty, are grateful to be able to walk alongside you during this journey and be part of this celebration.”

“This is amazing,” said Jillian Bettencourt '17, '23, as she waited for the ceremony to begin. After earning a BS in Medical Laboratory Science at UMassD and working at Rhode Island Hospital for five years, Bettencourt decided she wanted to be on the front lines of health care as a nurse. She plans to continue her studies in the College of Nursing & Health Sciences (CNHS) to earn her doctorate in nursing.

“I have loved the professors and the environment. UMass D has provided me with the skills to go forward. It was the best decision I’ve made,” she said.

The ABSN graduates already hold undergraduate degrees, and many in this group have degrees in health-related fields. This full-time “second degree” accelerated hybrid program can be completed in 18 months and prepares students for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) as well as safe nursing practice. The ABSN program integrates asynchronous online learning, on-campus laboratory and simulation experiences, and in-person clinical experiences within the Southcoast area

Standing next to each other
Sansha Alexis '23 with Clinical Assistant Professor Lisa Dumont, coordinator of the ABSN Program, following the ceremony.

Continue learning, speakers advised students

Common themes of the Pinning Ceremony were of perseverance, gratitude, and advice to continue learning as professional nurses, no matter how long you’ve practiced.

“For the nursing profession, these are challenging and exciting times.  Nurses have and will continue to make essential contributions to the health and well-being of all members of our society,” said Dean Kimberly Christopher. “Graduates, I urge you to embrace these opportunities to contribute; Give them your very best effort. Approach each opportunity with an open mind, open heart, a sense of humility, and a sense of humor.” 

“Nursing remains the most trusted profession,” said Dumont. “It is imperative that you honor this profession with empathy, compassion, caring, honesty, scientific curiosity, and integrity. Most importantly, never stop learning and adding to the profession.”

Dr. Uloma Onubogu, assistant dean of online learning for CNHS, offered her congratulations. “It wasn’t too long ago when I first met you in the fall of 2021. As you embark on the next steps in your professional nursing journey, it is my sincere wish that you retain wisdom, knowledge, good judgment, humility, and respect for self and others. Remember the values you now embody as nurses.  

“Continue to thirst for more knowledge,” Onubogu said. “Recognize the opportunities and challenges that will come with your new professional responsibilities and learn to grow from them to achieve your greatest potential. “

“You will be a lifelong learner,” said guest speaker Helena Viveiros ‘94, BSN, RN, OCN, an oncology nurse and nurse educator at St. Anne’s Hospital. “This transformation will take place over months to years.

“You can also make changes no matter how long you have been a nurse,” she added. “Be passionate about your profession. You have made a difference when you see your ideas transform into positive patient outcomes. It does not have to be something big to make a difference.”

Michelle Baker '22 with her sister and guest speaker, Helena Viveiros
Michelle Baker (center) was pinned by her sister and guest speaker Helena Viveiros, BSN, RN, OCN, an oncology nurse educator at Saint Anne's Hospital. Their brother, Steven Branco, is on the left.

Journey required perseverance

In addressing her classmates, Student Speaker Allison Dupere '23 reminded them of obstacles they overcame. Many were also raising children, working, and facing life-altering events while enrolled in the program. “There is much to be said about the graduates of this class. A year after the world shut down amidst a pandemic, we continued that pause, putting much of our lives on hold to gain the knowledge and skill to care for others.”

In speaking about perseverance, Guest Speaker Viveiros spoke of her own struggles with the workload and adversity. She and her brother lost both of their parents within five months at ages 20 and 18. They also became guardians for their 12-year-old sister, Michelle. 

“I was too proud and private to ask for help, but some professors sat with me and encouraged me to keep going. What got me through was my family, faith, our Portuguese community, and three of my professors, Janet Kenty, Carol Mailloux, and Patricia Dolan.”

In a poignant moment in the ceremony, Viveiros pinned her younger sister, now a mother of three children, who plans to work as a dialysis nurse.

Little girl hugging her mother
Graduates were pinned by someone special to them, including family members, friends, and faculty. Shannon Soule was pinned by her three-year-old daughter, Ryleigh.

“Be the nurse you would want as a patient,” students are told

In her closing remarks to her classmates, Dupere said, “Be the nurse who asks for help and offers it when needed. Who isn’t afraid to admit they don’t know something. And seek guidance from others. Be the nurse you would want as a patient who is compassionate and persistent in advocating, who encourages and praises achievements not just in patients but coworkers as well. Be the nurse who elicits change and progress in advancing healthcare.”

She concluded with a quote from the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. “Let us never consider ourselves to be finished nurses. We must be learning all of our lives."

Pinning Ceremony is an historic tradition held at the college for nearly 50 years

An historic tradition with roots that date back to the Crusades, the Pinning Ceremony officially marks a student’s transition from nursing student to professional nurse. The first pinning ceremony was held at the College of Nursing & Health Sciences in 1974, and the tradition continues nearly 50 years later.

As explained by Dean Christopher, the nursing pin also symbolizes service with its rights and responsibilities, students’ academic accomplishments, and a bond among UMass Dartmouth nursing classmates.

View photos from the Pinning Ceremony.