The College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) 69 nursing candidates for Spring 2022 graduation celebrated their achievements at the La Plata campus May 12 by attending their recognition and pinning ceremony – a time-honored event that has CSM faculty welcoming their students as peers and colleagues in the field of nursing.

Annette Ragland, professor of nursing, served as the mistress of ceremonies for the event and welcomed attendees to the celebration of students’ courage and hard work.

Credit: College of Southern Maryland

“This event provides an opportunity for us, your faculty, to recognize you and welcome you as our peers and colleagues in nursing,” she said. “Thank you to those in attendance for helping us to recognize the efforts of these individuals in this celebration of their accomplishments.”

Before the students were called to the stage, Chair of Nursing Dr. Sara Cano explained the significance of the pin each nurse would receive. She said that the modern pinning ceremony dates to the 1860s, when Florence Nightingale was awarded the Red Cross of St. George in recognition for her tireless service to the injured during the Crimean War. To share the honor, Nightingale in turn presented a medal of excellence to her brightest graduates and by 1916, the practice of pinning new graduates was standard throughout the United States.

Students received their pins from faculty pinners Morag Dahlstrom, Linda Hamel, Dawn Leukhardt, Catherine McKown, Rose Miller, and Deborah Rutledge. Professor Lynn Kennedy presented the candidates.

‘Nursing is an Obligation’

The featured speaker for the event was Brenda Henson, a retired veteran who served with the Army and Air Force for 25 years and now works at the John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. She led the students in a reflection on the Winston Churchill quote, “success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts,” recounting times when she has succeeded and failed throughout her career.

Credit: College of Southern Maryland

She also encouraged the students to care for one another as they progressed in their careers.

“Nursing is an obligation, not just to yourself but to your team, your coworkers, your family, your patients,” she said. “Look to your left and look to your right. These are the people who are counting on you, and these are the people you will be working with. If you see a nurse struggling, check on your partners, and make sure they’re ok.”

‘If you are a good person, you will be a good nurse’

Student Kiara West, pictured right, was selected by her classmates to speak on behalf of the graduates.

“Graduating from nursing school is not easy, especially not while juggling the pandemic, jobs, kids, families, and all the other responsibilities we had during this process,” West said. “We have worked extremely hard to get here and I want each and every one of you to bask in this moment because we truly deserve it.”

West kept the audience laughing throughout her speech, offering humorous observations on their nursing school journey and comparing their progression to characters on the television show SpongeBob SquarePants.

“As we become new nurses, we will become SpongeBob SquarePants,” she explained. “We will not run away from new challenges because we are confident in ourselves, and we will adopt a positive mindset that will push us through any obstacle that comes our way.”

West ended her speech on a somber note: speaking through tears, she dedicated her speech to her Nana, who passed away the previous week. She shared that her Nana instilled in her the importance of kindness, generosity, and being a good person, and taught her that how she treats people is the most important thing about her.

“I’m going to extend the same advice to you: you might not be the smartest nurse in the room, or the lead in skills, but ultimately, if you are a good person, you will be a good nurse,” she said. “Nurses are the most trusted profession because we care about people, and we will do everything in our power to help them.”

‘This is your moment’

Closing remarks were provided by Jeanne Hill, associate professor of nursing, who said that it was fitting that the students chose “courage” as the theme for their event.

“One of the most important lessons I can give you is to always do what is best for your patient. Whatever it is that is going to have the best outcome for your patient, have the courage to do it. Have the courage to fight for it. There will be times where you will feel defeated or beaten, I promise you that, but I also promise you, that every time, it will be worth it,” she said.

“This is your moment,” she continued. “The one that you have fought hard for these past few years. Every patient you encounter will become a lesson. Embrace those moments, learn from each patient. Take the lessons you learn and give them to your next patient. Do it with pride, confidence, and skill. Most of all…do it with your heart.”

Students who proudly received their pins are:

  • MacKenzie Kathleen Barefoot
  • Theresa Benton
  • Savannah Michelle Blackwell
  • Julia Marie Bowie
  • Erika Thomas Bruce
  • Alexis Nicole Campbell
  • Daniel Carter
  • Arthur Montezuma Carvalho
  • Jia Choi
  • Franz Charmaine B. Delk
  • Kailee Louise Covey
  • Alyssa Dorsey
  • Aniya Monae Dudley
  • Celine Martita Fisher
  • Kiera Ford
  • Da’Shonna Alexis Forrester
  • Whitney Lauren Freed
  • Cassandra Garren
  • Taylor Lynn Gascon
  • Karen Lynnette Goff
  • NaShay Destiny Green
  • Jenna Marie Guido
  • Kelsey Allyson Hanks
  • Kami M. Hardin
  • Jessica K. Hayden
  • Kaitlin M. Hudson
  • Kathryn Ann Humphreys
  • Meg Elizabeth Jacko
  • Chelsea Marie James
  • Stephanie Renee Josiah
  • Stephanie Renee Josiah
  • Lesley G. Keller
  • Alexis R. Klumpyan
  • Brittany Nicole Latham
  • Princess Estephanie S. Leyson
  • Tiffany N. Lyon
  • Chandler Maldonado
  • Louie Dave Dionisio Manalad
  • Ashley Manning
  • Brianna Alexis Mingo
  • Leeann K. Murillo
  • Kaylin S. Navarrete
  • Sarah Nicole Noble
  • Shaunte Lorraine Parran
  • Christian Pavlik
  • Jamie L Peabody
  • Jessica Nicole Penn
  • Laura Page Phillips
  • Megan N. Picard
  • Lisa Marie Schwallenberg
  • Melissa  Joyce Shipman
  • Andrew L. Sien
  • Savannah Ashlyn Simmons
  • Emiliann Carmela Simpson
  • Janna-Beth Willaum Smith
  • Sarah E. Steele
  • Natalie Marie Sulhoff
  • Alexis Nichole Tiede
  • Karla Lou Lucero Ugalino
  • Natosha Nicole Vallandingham
  • Amber N. Vaughn
  • Hannah Elizabeth Walker
  • MaryGrace Weeks
  • Kiara West
  • Shellayne Denise Whalen
  • Gabrielle Michel White
  • Michelle Widle
  • Myka Angelica
  • Asuma Wilkins
  • Tara A. Wilson
  • Breanna M. Windsor

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