New Nurses Take Pledge in Virtual Pinning Ceremony
The USF Health College of Nursing held a virtual pinning ceremony for 139 baccalaureate nursing students on Dec. 10. This marks the third time the college has recognized new graduating nurses in this unique way due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pre-recorded video ceremony premiered on YouTube with nearly 150 guests watching.
Usha Menon, PhD, RN, FAAN, College of Nursing Dean and Professor and Senior Associate Vice President of USF Health, commended the students for their resilience and perseverance during the world health crisis.
“This year we have been living through a historic pandemic that has changed our daily lives in ways we never imagined. Many of you will be practicing as new nurses in this extraordinary time. I want you to know how proud we are of you. We are confident that you are up to the challenge,” she said.
Charles Lockwood, MD, MHCM, Senior Vice President of USF Health and Dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, praised the students for entering the profession during a critical time.
“Now, more than ever, being a nurse is both a great privilege and grave responsibility. The world desperately needs the calm expertise and boundless compassion of nurses to stop this pandemic, restore the nation’s health, and return economic stability to a society clearly in crisis. We have no doubt you will rise to the occasion. Your education has prepared you for everything that lies ahead,” he said.
Martin Tadlock, Regional Chancellor at the USF St. Petersburg campus, saluted the graduating members of the inaugural cohort of the Accelerated Second Degree pathway.
“You are a great addition to this campus. You’ve entered a career that is really, during this time especially, going to have an extremely important and positive impact on the lives of people. So congratulations on this pinning ceremony and on being the pioneers for this first-time cohort of students on this campus going through this accelerated nursing degree pathway,” he said.
Three nursing students gave class remarks. Paige Sasser, the V-CARE class president, congratulated the class on the momentous accomplishment.
“Although we are not able to celebrate this special occasion together, we are cheering each other on as we take this big step forward into our futures, into the unlimited potential that we are capable of and have been prepared for as Bull nurses,” she said.
Samantha Illes, president of the Accelerated Second Degree class, told her classmates to take pride in being the pathway’s first cohort to graduate from the St. Petersburg campus.
“In our cohort’s case, being first means we are making history. This allows more nurses to graduate from all campuses, which means more nurses are able to work and help the nursing shortage which is especially important this year,” she said.
Rhonda Hardy, the RN to BSN class representative and a U.S. Army veteran, thanked the faculty and academic advisors for guiding her through the pathway.
“I am a soldier at heart, so I appreciate the order and structure of the pathway. I always knew what to expect and when to expect it. I have learned so much and what I have learned I have applied in my day-to-day nursing practice,” she said.
Nursing student Danielle Myers will receive the King O’Neal Scholar Award for maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Myers will be honored during the USF virtual commencement ceremony on Dec. 12.
The college also awarded honors to students who excelled academically and clinically.
The Academic Excellence in Nursing Award was given to Jade Bowers, Lisa Villarreal, Hala Akil Haidar, Layaly Asfour, Hardy, and Samantha Moctezuma. The Clinical Excellence Award went to Krystal Allen, Mark Gosnell, Jeffrey Ladwig, Konstantin Nefedov, Susan Willman.
The Nursing Leadership Award was presented to Kimberly Hoefer, Illes, Amanda Richardson, and Sasser.
Winners of the Nursing Service Award were Victoria Hernandez, Hoefer, Sasser, Alexa Tinsley, and Amanda Zale. The Spirit of Nursing Award was given to Kurn George and Willman. The Nightingale Award honored both Bowers and Sasser.
Students also selected a winner for the Outstanding Faculty Award, which was presented to Alicia G. Rossiter, the college’s military liaison, and Amanda Davis, the director of the Accelerated Second Degree pathway at the St. Petersburg campus.
Another eight students were recognized as members of the nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau International. They were Ashley Bowen, Hardy, Hoefer, Jessica Ibasfalean, Kaitlin Lindblom, Vladimir Lut, Kaitlin Montenegro, and Amber Stirn.
Students who served in the armed forces will be given a special Nursing Challenge Coin. In addition, students who graduated from the V-CARE pathway will receive a special V-CARE Coin. The Grace-Gill Leadership and Excellence Award was bestowed upon Hoefer.
The ceremony ended with students reciting the nursing pledge, words of advice and encouragement from faculty, and student photos from their time at USF.
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing