As Neysa Carlini-Smith (left) looks on, Kelley Creighton lights her candle with help from Ebony Davis.

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South Florida State College (SFSC) acknowledged 28 graduates of its practical nursing program at a pinning ceremony on Thursday, July 26, in the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts in Avon Park.

Pinning ceremonies recognize nursing graduates for their accomplishments, emphasize their responsibilities as health care providers, and officially welcome them into the nursing profession. Having earned their occupational certificates in practical nursing, the graduates are now eligible to take the National Council for Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-PN) and apply for practical nursing licenses from the Florida Board of Nursing.

The 2018 practical graduates are Ahlam Alqabsi, Reham Alqabsi, Irma Alvarado, Selena Badillo, Neysa Carlini-Smith, Kelley Creighton, Ebony Davis, Stephanie DeAnda, Erica DeLoera, Maria Diego Macedo, Savanah Ewing, Jennifer Fannin, Sonya Fowler, Jessica Garza, Maribel Garza, Jessica Godinez, Bonnie Kelecseny, Erica Molina, Christina Moye, Crystal Oliveros, Jessica Price, Jessica Roarx, Berenice Roblero, Angelica Salgado, Raney Sebring, Ingri Suarez, Monike Thomas, and Dalal “Dee” Zaban.

On behalf of the college, Dr. Michaela Tomova, dean of arts and sciences, congratulated the graduates. “We are thankful for your accomplishments. We know as you embark on your professional journey, you will take part of the South Florida State College spirit with you in your heart, and you’ll always remember the support, the knowledge, and the love you have gained in our institution. I know you will impart that faith, love and support to people you are destined to meet in your professional career. Thank you for being our pride and joy.”

Nursing instructor and keynote speaker Candra Polk encouraged the graduates to follow the example of actor Will Smith by creating an annual personal mission statement defining how they will improve the lives of others by continually striving to improve themselves.

“No matter who you are or what you do each day, it is so important to stay driven, to continually elevate your mind, to elevate your spirit, and to care for your bodies so that you will be able to love and care for as many people as effectively as possible with this mystery of life we’ve been given.”

Class president Dalal “Dee” Zaban thanked the extensive village of family, friends, teachers, and others who supported the nursing students while they pursued their education, and she reminded her classmates that it is now their duty to serve a village of patients and their families. She shared her own personal philosophy that defines her approach to nursing: “If I cannot do great things, I will do great things in a small way.”

“It is not the measure of how we will change lives, but in the great way we will do it: through human touch, attention, giving a bath, refreshing bed linens, distracting a crying toddler while getting vaccinated, holding a patient’s hand when they are scared or confused, or being there for the families of the patients in our care,” Zaban said.

Graduates received their pins from a person of their choice, such as family members and friends. The ceremony concluded with the new nurses lighting candles to symbolize the impact they will make on the world and then reciting the Nightingale Pledge of nursing ethics, named after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.