Saying the Nightingale Pledge

The graduates recite the Nightingale Pledge.

AVON PARK, Fla. – May 12, 2023 – South Florida State College (SFSC) honored 37 Associate in Science in Nursing (ADN) students in a traditional pinning ceremony on Thursday, May 11 in the Alan J. Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts at SFSC on the Highlands Campus in Avon Park.

The graduates are Stacy Acosta Cordoba, Isabella Adams, Kinley Bennett, Maureen Calhoun, Jackeline De La Cruz, Jordin Foster, Lucy Garcia, Michaelyn Grantham, Margarita Gutierrez, Jessica Harnage, Nubia Hernandez, Laura Holda, Sherry Jones, Ashley Lehman, Cristina Loez-Rojas, Shelby Luke, Jasmine Main, Lindsey Martin, Vanessa Mascorro-Estrada, McKenzie McCormick, Arielle Meier, Carol Mitchell, Cheyenne O’Hara, Tristen Orr, Taylor Painter, Veronica Ramos, Berenice Roblero, Johnny Saldivar, Jennifer Salgado, Jezebeth Sanchez, Skyla Stidham, Candice Story, Monike Thomas, Ashley Thompson, Brandy Tiption, and Daniella Vazquez.

Guest speaker for the ceremony was Rasheena Morris-James, SFSC Nursing instructor and nurse practitioner, who addressed the students and said, “Remember that your degree is more than a piece of paper. It’s a symbol of your commitment to learning, growth, and personal development. It’s a testament to your resilience and determination in the face of adversity. And it’s the foundation on which you will build a fulfilling and meaningful life. Being a nurse means being a patient advocate. You will be the voice for your patient and ensure that they receive the highest possible quality care. Being a nurse is about being a leader and a lifelong learner. Learn to work effectively as part of a team and ask for help if you need it. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish when you work together. You have worked so hard, you have persevered and shown that you have what it takes to become an exceptional nurse.”

Mary Ellen Powrie is presented the Golden D.U.C.K. Award.

Ashley Lehman presents the Golden D.U.C.K. Award to Mary Ellen Powrie.

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 Ashley Lehman presented the 2023 Golden D.U.C.K. Award to Nursing instructor Mary Ellen Powrie. This is the second time Powrie has been bestowed this award.

“Her passion for nursing and education flows through every ounce of who she is,” Lehman said. “She is a strong advocate, reminding us that we matter and to never be afraid to use our voice. If we were ever having a bad day, she always knew the right words to put us at ease. She didn’t want us to just survive nursing school, she wanted us to thrive in nursing school.”

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.

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