Graduates recite the Nightingale Pledge.

The graduates recite the Nightingale Pledge.

AVON PARK, Fla. – May 13, 2022 – South Florida State College (SFSC) honored 39 Associate in Science in Nursing (ADN) students in a traditional pinning ceremony on Thursday, May 12 in the Alan J. Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts at SFSC on the Highlands Campus in Avon Park.

The graduates are Cassidy Beers, Kayla Bingham, Sarah Carlton, Crystal Carpenter, Loreal Chavez, Rebeca Cortez, Juanita Escamilla, Francesca Espiritu, Abigail Fraga, Nicole Ghent, Javier Gomez-Badillo, Maria Gonzalez, Erica Hagan, Keikee Kirlew, Rebecca Lieder, Leydi Lopez, Henry Lovett, Julia Mack, Kathy Marcial-Palacios, Jayla McCree, Marie McLean, Sheyla Medina, Zarlinn Medina, Ivone Nava, Marta Ortega, Anthony Pacheco-Moran, Mil Ryahsson Piocnacia, Reagan Pitrowski, Christen Pyles, Nicholas Ramnarain, Ana Rodriguez, Gonzalo Saldivar, Shelly Seeteram, Josie Spencer, Madison Thomas, Anahi Velasco, Brenna Wells, Zachary Wells, and Lyndsee Williams.

Guest speaker for the ceremony was Mary Ellen Powrie, SFSC Nursing instructor, who addressed the students and spoke about resilience and passion in their coming careers. “This is a resilient group who entered nursing school at a time of pandemic and at a time of great uncertainty in healthcare, in the world, and in everything. In 2020, these students seated before us came determined to give to others and to learn nursing. They have resilience. The definition of resilience is that you are able to recover from uncertainties and when a lot of obstacles are put in your path. However, we bend, but we don’t break. As you go forward, you’re going to be tested with that in nursing. You’ve heard me speak about passion. I hope that every single one of you never loses your passion. We can teach you knowledge, and experience will help you with skills, but you must have passion in your heart and soul to get up everyday and help the people who need you. Be a light for someone. I want you to keep learning, be enthusiastic, and let your light shine.”

Mary Ellen Powrie receives the Golden D.U.C.K.

Graduate Reagan Pitrowski (right) presents Mary Ellen Powrie (center) with the Golden D.U.C.K.

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 Reagan Pitrowski presented the 2022 Golden D.U.C.K. Award to Mary Ellen Powrie. “It takes a special person to become a nurse,” Pitrowski said. “But it takes an even more special person to educate the next generation of nurses.”

During the ceremony, the graduates’ loved ones presented them with their individual nursing pins. The graduates, then, passed the flame of a lamp, one to another, before reciting the Nightingale Pledge.

Mary Von Merveldt, director of nursing education, explained the origins of the Nursing pinning and the importance of the lamp lighting ceremony to the graduates: “The pinning we know today originated in the 1850s at the Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas Hospital in London. Having been awarded the Red Cross of St. George for her selfless service to the injured and dying during the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale chose to extend this offer to her most outstanding graduating nurses by presenting each of them with a medal of excellence. The presentation of the lamp is a symbol of the caring devotion nurses administer to the sick and injured in the practice of nursing. After nurses were pinned, Nightingale would light a lamp and pass the flame to each nurse as they recited the pledge. The passing of the flame represents a formal welcoming of new nurses to the profession.”

Graduates of the 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 online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a two-year generic Associate in Science in Nursing, a 13-month transition licensed practical nurse to registered nurse Associate in Science in Nursing, and an 11-month Practical Nursing (PN) career certificate. For more information about SFSC’s Nursing programs, contact Danielle Ochoa, Health Sciences advisor at 863-784-7027 or by email at