School of Nursing graduates honored at annual pinning ceremony

May 20, 2020

Megan Coakley getting her pin put on her shirt in her kitchen

Although we were not able to host our annual School of Nursing pinning ceremony in our People's United Center, the tradition continued despite the global pandemic. This year, family members led the tradition — by pinning graduates at their homes during a Zoom broadcast. Here, Megan Coakley '20 receives her pin at home.

The School of Nursing community came together on Friday to honor the graduating nursing students during the annual pinning ceremony that marks the achievements of their nursing degrees.

A total of 161 students received their pins from their loved ones after collectively completing more than 136,000 hours of class and didactic time, more than 42,000 hours of lab experience, and nearly 100,000 hours of clinical practice and field work time during the past four years. The ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of traditional 4-year students as well as our RN to BSN students.

“Tonight is your ceremonial pinning,” said Lisa O’Connor, dean of the School of Nursing. “Be proud, stand tall and celebrate. It is your time to shine.”

Quinnipiac President Judy D. Olian expressed her gratitude, saying that these graduates are joining a community who is serving in the world’s leading hospitals and at nearby regional medical centers, and who are providing vital support for rural communities.

“We’ve heard the word ‘heroes’ used often in recent weeks used to describe our nurses,” said Olian. “But the reality is that you have always been Superman or Superwoman to those whose lives you’ve touched well before the pandemic. Regardless of where your journey takes you, you are always responding to someone in need."

Olian stressed that it’s not how these graduates are receiving their pin — it’s why. She challenged them to remember why they have chosen the nursing profession because the "why" has never been more important.

O’Connor said that although at times it may be difficult, this class is prepared to face the challenges presented to them, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This educational preparation was critical for your success as a nurse,” said O’Connor. “You are entering the profession at a very important time during our nation’s history. You’ll be challenged to prioritize, make quick decisions, multitask, and utilize your clinical reasoning skills — but you are ready.”

Keynote speaker Marsha Proto, executive director for the Connecticut League for Nursing and the Connecticut Center for Nursing Workforce, recognized that this ceremony was one of many milestones that nursing students embark on in their journey into the nursing profession.

“I’m sure that when the World Health Organization decided a few years back to designate 2020 as the year of the nurse and midwife, they had no idea that nursing would take center stage on the global scale, and be thrust into the spotlight to play a critical and integral role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Proto. “No matter the role a nurse plays, the setting he or she is employed, or population served, nursing as a profession has truly shown the world the depth of your expertise and knowledge, a commitment and passion for the work, innovation and creativity to address and manage even the most challenging situations, and the power of compassion, and the love of humankind.”

The pinning of nurses is a tradition that reaches back over 1,000 years and is a symbol of service to others. It’s often recognized as a rite of passage and the beginning of the nursing journey.

“The nursing pin represents professional achievement,” explained Eileen Hermann, clinical assistant professor of nursing and director of upper division nursing. “It identifies a nurse’s source of education. It’s a symbol that indicates to patients and others that the nurse has successfully completed a particular nursing program and has the ability to function as a nurse.”

Student speaker Julia Miles ’20 reflected on her journey of becoming a nurse at Quinnipiac — starting with the feelings of uncertainty that came with her first year, to everything she and her classmates have learned, and ending on how they all have become strong and confident nurses.

“We were challenged to make the most of ourselves by professors who were truly remarkable,” said Miles. “We were able to successfully transition from students to nurses, and that is no small feat. And now we are moving forward toward a new journey. The education that we have received here at Quinnipiac empowers us to go forth and care for others in consistent ways every day.”

Each aspect of a nursing pin has significance. The Quinnipiac nursing pin contains the color blue, representing truth and loyalty, as well as gold representing worthiness. The motto on the pin is the motto of the state of Connecticut — it means he who is transplanted sustains and endures. The oak tree in the center is a symbol of strength, determination, resistance and knowledge.

“These nursing students deserve recognition for the truth in keeping with the professionalism of nursing, their loyal service to patients, families, communities, each other, and the study of nursing science,” said Hermann. “The worthiness for nursing degrees they have earned through rigorous studies in completing their nursing education. The oak tree is associated with honor, nobility and wisdom — all qualities that the Quinnipiac University School of Nursing graduates have accomplished.”

Katarzyna Lessard, chair of undergraduate nursing, presented the pins and urged the class to wear their pins proudly and remember that they are a symbol of their time at Quinnipiac. ”This is truly a remarkable class, graduating in an extraordinary time,” she said.

Three alumni also shared their words of wisdom and congratulations to the Class of 2020.

Andre Zumerchik ’19 acknowledged that the graduates will be faced with many tough situations, but the key is to take each stressful moment one at a time and to make the most of every situation.

Logan Hayes ’19 recognized that there are good days and bad days in the nursing profession.

“What keeps you going through the ups and downs are the special moments and the connections you have made with your patients,” said Hayes. “Being present during your patients’ lives during their most vulnerable time is truly a gratifying feeling. Although they may not have the quality of life they once enjoyed, being a part of the healing process and helping them makes the four years in school worthwhile.”

Justin Ragozzino ’19 shared his words of encouragement, reassuring the class that they are ready to contribute to their communities.

“You may not realize it now, but as a graduate of Quinnipiac’s nursing program you have acquired the skills and knowledge to be prepared for whatever is thrown at you and even more,” said Ragozzino. “We are all proud to be Quinnipiac nurses, stay Bobcat Strong — you are all truly amazing.”

Hadassah Cormier getting her pin placed on her shirt while sitting on a couch

Nursing graduates celebrate with pinning ceremony

Watch the virtual ceremony.

School of Nursing

BS in Nursing

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