After completing their early nursing studies during the pandemic, receiving their pins felt "surreal"
With cheers, applause, proud smiles— and a little magic—96 UMass Dartmouth senior nursing majors received their pins in a special ceremony that celebrated their accomplishments and launched them into their future careers.
And, while the students and their families were treated to a magic show performed by one of their professors, there were no tricks to earning their nursing degrees. The hard work, dedication, and resilience demonstrated by a class that spent more than a year of their nursing studies remotely during a pandemic was celebrated by the evening's speakers during the lively College of Nursing & Health Sciences (CNHS) 2023 Pinning Ceremony.
Each nursing graduate was presented with a pin by a faculty member, a mentor, or loved one as a symbolic welcome to the profession. This year's ceremony was held just before National Nurses Week, from May 6-12, with the theme of "You Make a Difference"to honor the various nursing roles as well as the positive impact nurses have on people's lives.
"National Nurses Week recognizes the millions of nurses who are the backbone of the health care system and today is an opportunity to welcome you into that group,"said Assistant Professor Valerie Seney, who led the ceremony. "This is a time of celebration for all that you have accomplished. It is a time of thanks, for all of those who helped you to work hard, to never give up, and to achieve the dream of becoming a nurse. I speak for all of your faculty as I say, ‘congratulations' for a job well done!”
Chancellor Mark Fuller applauded the nursing graduates who "have chosen to dedicate your lives to caring for others. You chose to start your journey at UMass Dartmouth.”
Pinning Ceremony is a welcoming ceremony
As CNHS Dean Kimberly Christopher explained, the Pinning Ceremony officially marks a student's transition into the profession of nursing. The first Pinning Ceremony was held at UMass Dartmouth 49 years ago and continues today based on traditions that date back to the Crusades.
"A Pinning Ceremony is a welcoming ceremony as recipients move from students to professional nurses,"said Dean Christopher. "The pin is also a symbol of service that involves many professional rights as well as responsibilities. The pin is a symbol of your accomplishments, of completing your academic requirements, and the pin is also a bond and connection to other UMass Dartmouth (nursing) graduates.”
Remain curious and keep the patient at the center of all you do, said guest speaker
Dr. Marva Foster, an investigator at VA Boston Healthcare System, Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research (CHOIR), a registered nurse at VA Boston Healthcare, and an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University's Chobanian and Avedisian School of Medicine, served as guest speaker. She is a PhD graduate of UMass Dartmouth and is a former CNHS faculty member.
She praised the nursing graduates for their resilience during the pandemic and encouraged them to remain curious. "Your education has equipped you with the skills and knowledge you need to provide excellent patient care, but it's curiosity, compassion, and empathy that will truly make you great nurses. Always remember that the patient is the center of everything you do. Treat each patient with the respect, dignity, and kindness they deserve.
"Maya Angelou once said, ‘As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the mind, soul, heart, and body of our patients. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.' I know each and every one of you will make a difference in the lives of your patients.”
Speaking on behalf of their classmates were Synnove Ask '23, president of the Student Nurses Association, and Jacob O'Brien '23, the organization's secretary. "I am here to say we did it, we have reached the finished line. It took a lot to get to this point after our four years of nursing school. Chem class with T-Su and his magic tricks, memorizing drugs I still cannot pronounce like Levetiracetam, and the one single side effect that set it apart from the other hundred in Patho & Pharm. Exams with questions that had all right answers listed, but having to choose which was the most right," Ask said. "The list goes on and on, but most importantly, on top of it all, we did it through a global pandemic which truly tested every single one of us. Through our perseverance, dedication, and most importantly, passion for nursing, we did it.”
" . . This is more than just a team, this is a family,"said O'Brien. "All of us were a shoulder to lean on or a form of tough love. We scratched and clawed our way to this point, constantly fighting through adversity, to be ready in the batter's box to knock that ball out of the park. It's people like us who face the toughest life has to offer that come out on top. Doing it together in a pandemic setting, ready to sacrifice to care and advocate for patients, ready to help your family that you are all standing next to, that's nursing.”
To the delight of the students, faculty, and their families, retired Chemistry Professor Timothy Su, known as "T-Su" performed a few magic tricks for the audience. He would perform tricks in the nursing students' first-year chemistry class to illustrate some of the scientific principles he was teaching and for fun. The students asked him to attend their Pinning Ceremony and perform for them for the last time.
Professor Teri Reynolds concluded the ceremony by leading the newly pinned nursing majors—along with their faculty—in reciting the Florence Nightingale Pledge.
A rewarding time
As they celebrated with their families, the CNHS Class of 2023 was happy and relieved to have finished their journey."It was very hard with Covid, so it's really rewarding to be at this moment,"said Rachel Talbot of Somerset. "It feels surreal.”
"We all felt we weren't going to make it. We worked together, we stayed united. The professors were super helpful. During the pandemic, they supported us a lot. With all their support, we pulled though,"said Vanessa Barreto of Natick, MA.
"It feels surreal,"said Salena Riveira of Somerset, who hopes to become an ICU nurse. "I'm finally here.”
The Pinning Ceremony was organized by Assistant Dean Karen Barnett and a planning committee consisting of student support staff, and members of the senior class and the Student Nurses Association.