Graduates pledge service to healing

Graduates pledge service to healing

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

The graduates are Melissa Acosta, Jimmy Bunn, Bianca Cannon, Carmen Corona Zavala, Cheryl Cox, Courtney Crosby, Christian Cruz, Kyle Daniels, Megan Davidson, Alyssa Diaz, Daniel Duque, Elizabeth Etherton, Anallely Guzman, Mckenna Hellein, Erika Hernandez, Margie Herndon, William “Tadd” Holton, James Aaron Houser, Megan Hughes, Perla Mendieta-Arvizu, Laura Nieto, Maribel Perez-Badillo, I. Natalia Ramos, Taylor Ritacco, Jacqueline Rivera, Michelle “Mika” Rivera, Ana Rodriquez, Liliana Sanchez, Stephanie Smith, Mary Stacy, Chiquita Stewart, and Erica Tovar.

Guest speaker, Dr. Michele Heston, director of Nursing Education at SFSC, began her presentation by recounting the Seven C’s of Caring at SFSC, a model of competencies for nursing program graduates.

They are competence, compassion, confidence, conscience, commitment, communication, and culture.

Dr. Heston explained that when she spoke with students about them during their final nursing practicum, students wove the seven C’s throughout their own stories of caring for patients. She said, “It is in capturing such moments and turning them into stories that we shape who we become. Storytelling lifts facts from text books and drops them into our lives in powerful ways.”

Dr. Heston told her own story of how a nurse cared for her when she was hospitalized as a premature infant. “It is because of a practical nurse named Polly that I am standing here tonight!”

“I implore each of you to never doubt the influence you will have in other people’s lives,” Dr. Heston said to the graduates. “That will help your nursing heart grow and expand and provide rich stories to illustrate your careers and lives. You already have stories that define you as nurses.”

“Someone, somewhere, will breathe a little easier because you were there. Each of you will heal wounds, bring lives into this world, and help usher lives out of the world. Never doubt how vitally important that work is, and look for the gifts within each day.”

During the ceremony, graduates accepted their nursing pins from a person of their choice, in most cases a relative or friend who they credited with being supportive throughout their lives.

Dr. Heston said that “The highlight of completing a program of study in nursing is receiving the nursing pin, and that it is a symbol of service that includes many professional rights and responsibilities.”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.

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.

Nursing instructor Laurie Simmons (right) accepts Golden D.U.C.K. award

Nursing instructor Laurie Simmons (right) accepts Golden D.U.C.K. award

During the ceremony, ADN graduate Cheryl Cox presented the 2016 Golden Duck Award to Laurie Simmons, an SFSC nursing instructor. “She is an outstanding leader, exemplifying the high standards that this program demands,” Cox said. “We say that she instills confidence that lets us know we can and will accomplish anything we set our minds to.  She brings all that she is and has been as a nurse and says ‘let me show you the way.’  We’ll never forget the way you’ve loved us with your care and dedication.”

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 one-year practical nursing occupational certificate program. For program entry requirements, consult the SFSC College Catalog on the website or call 863-784-7027.