Nursing Graduates Light Candles on their Nightingale Lamps

Graduates light candles on their Nightingale lamps.

Thirty-four graduates of South Florida State College’s Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program were honored in a traditional pinning ceremony on June 15 in the Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts at SFSC, Highlands Campus.

The graduates are Ashley Acosta, Shelby Anderson, Angelina Avila, Cristal Badillo, Angela Barrs, Vanessa Brooker, Ashley Cross, Erica Escamilla, Yuri Estrada, Clint Fowler, Treson Francis, Mishel Franklin, Jesus Garcia, Jacob “Ross” Gunn, Karlee Henderson, Angela Hester, Ashely “Taylor” Jones, Darby Jones, Nikole “Niki” Jones, Zoo Kue, Jennifer Lopez, Lindsey Lovett, April Lozano, Thu Luong, Evelyn “Renee” Marley, Lydia Mejia, Adna Metayer, Jennifer Penny, Karen Pilkington, Vanette See, Josue Somarriba, Richenda Trenchfield, Sara Weeks, and Shea Young.

The guest speaker was Christine Greenwald, an SFSC Nursing professor who retires at the end of this academic term. Addressing the graduates and guests, she said, “This is how I feel about this whole class—I have no reservations in having any one of these students to be my nurse, or my family’s nurse, when the need may arise. This is the greatest compliment one nurse can give to another.”

“I want you to never lose sight of the wonder and honor it is to be a nurse at the most vulnerable times of your patient’s life,” Greenwald urged the graduates. “You will see, and some have already seen, life at its best and at its worst. What is so exciting is that you have the power to make the most out of that person’s life at that moment and touch them deeply. You, in turn, will never be the same.”

She gave the graduates one last assignment in their journey. “I would like you to embrace change and technology, but hold onto your humanness; take charge of your learning; find a mentor and be a mentor; continue to help each other; and let your words be encouraging, not destructive.”

In his farewell, Class President Shea Young said, “I want to thank our incredible faculty who endured two years of our crazy.” He then addressed his fellow graduates. “Thank you for being the best group anyone could ask for. I walked into a classroom two years ago, knowing absolutely no one. And today, I will walk out of this theater with another family. As our journey together comes to an end, I take comfort in knowing that a new journey begins. I pray that our paths cross again.”

Each year, ADN graduates award the Golden Duck to someone who has served as a mentor to the students in the program. The D.U.C.K. acronym represents the foundational elements of the mentoring arrangement: Developing, Understanding, Compassion, and Knowledge.

During the ceremony, ADN graduate Vanette See presented the 2017 Golden Duck Award to Mary von Mervedt, SFSC director of Nursing. “I, personally, have looked up to her and developed a great respect for how she handles herself, her patients, and her students,” See said. “She has always treated us with integrity, honesty, and respect. In classroom lectures, exams, and teaching us skills, she has never made us feel inadequate. She has always encouraged us with positive reinforcement. She has shown us what a true nursing professional should be.”

The practice of pinning new graduates has been a nursing school tradition in the United States since 1916. The pin is worn prominently on a nurse’s uniform throughout her or his career. One story of the ceremony’s beginning goes back to 1883, when Queen Victoria awarded Florence Nightingale the Royal Red Cross on St. George’s Day for her service to the sick and injured during the Crimean War. In turn, Nightingale later extended the honor to her outstanding nursing students by presenting them with a medal of excellence.

Graduates of the ADN program become registered nurses by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX) exam. SFSC nursing graduates are usually fully employed in nursing within a few months of graduation.

SFSC’s ADN program is the only nationally accredited nursing program in its service district of Highlands, Hardee, and DeSoto counties. It is accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN).

SFSC offers ADN program options for students interested in becoming registered nurses: a two-year Generic-RN program and a one-year Transition-LPN to RN program. The college also offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing program as well as a one-year practical nursing occupational certificate program. For program entry requirements, consult the SFSC College Catalog or call 863-784-7027.