Nursing graduates recite the Nightingale Pledge.

AVON PARK, Fla. – Jan. 12, 2021 – South Florida State College (SFSC) honored 12 Associate in Science in Nursing (ADN) students from its evening and weekend program in a traditional pinning ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 7 in the Alan J. Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts at SFSC on the Highlands Campus in Avon Park. During this year’s ceremony, graduates, faculty, and members of the audience adhered to the COVID-19 safety protocols by donning masks and maintaining social distancing.

The graduates are Angelica Alicea, Viridiana Correa-Mariano, Vanessa Davidson, Samantha Gilliard, Johanny Gonzalez, Ashton Hunt, Ngoc Le, Madison Marple, Scott Milliken, Sara Smith, Nashley Terron, and Julia Van Fleet.

Wayne Estes, president and general manager of Sebring International Raceway was the guest speaker. When he addressed the graduates, he said: “Your time at SFSC has given you a foundation for real life situations. This is not the kind of job where you clock in and accidentally make a difference in someone’s life. This is a calling for someone who is passionate about serving patients, families, and friends of those patients and serving your medical teammates. Your passion and caring for patients will take you much further than ambition, knowledge, or office politics. It will lead you to paychecks much greater than those you will deposit in the bank. Your paycheck will come when a patient says that if it had not been for you, he or she may have given up. Your paycheck will come when you help an injured patient walk for the first time after a near-fatal auto accident. Your paycheck will come when you take the wrapped up baby to its mother to hold for the first time. Your paycheck will come when you receive a smile or squeeze of the hand from a person who is about to pass into another life. Not just anyone can do what you do. I cannot do what you do, but I’m so grateful that you do it.”

Each year, Nursing graduates award the Golden D.U.C.K. 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, graduate Carlos Vega presented the 2021 Golden D.U.C.K. Award to Evelyn Cruz, SFSC Nursing instructor. “Her patience was shown every day in her soft-spoken voice as she provided positive feedback and encouragement to build our confidence as students and future nurses,” he said. “Our time together with Ms. Cruz will always be treasured and remembered by all as one of the best parts of being a nursing student.”

The practice of pinning new graduates has been a nursing school tradition in the United States since 1916 and, symbolically, welcomes each graduate into the nursing profession. 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 two-year Associate in Science in Nursing (ADN) program become registered nurses by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. SFSC nursing graduates are usually fully employed in nursing within a few months of graduation.

SFSC offers an Associate in Science degree in Nursing (ADN) program 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 of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. For program entry requirements, consult the SFSC College Catalog online at, call 863-784-7225, or email