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NEWBURGH – Mount Saint Mary College honored nearly 80 graduates of its prestigious Nursing program at a pinning ceremony on Friday, May 20.
The nurse pinning has long been a prelude to the college’s annual Commencement ceremony. The next day, May 21, the Mount awarded degrees to more than 500 graduates, including the newly-minted nurses.
Fr. Gregoire Fluet, chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, blessed the pins, which were presented to the graduates by chosen family members and friends. The Mount nursing pin displays the college seal and motto, “doce me veritatem,” which translates as “teach me the truth.”
“The journey to become a registered, professional nurse is not an easy one,” said Vidia Saleem, instructor of Nursing, as she welcomed the Class of 2022 and their families. “These students have just reached a milestone. They are now ready to make the transition from student nurse to graduate nurse.”
Christine Berté, dean of the School of Nursing, urged the graduates to “make our profession better. Take your knowledge, your compassion, and your enthusiasm, and make this profession better.”
Dr. Jason Adsit, president of the college, discussed the impact that Nursing had on him and his family. His mother, who is more than 90 years old, still keeps her nurse pin at her bedside.
“This is a very important day in your journey towards your professional development,” Dr. Adsit said. “Embrace it. Enjoy it. Congratulations!”
Thomas “TJ” Coyne of Staten Island, N.Y., president of the Student Nursing Association, offered his reflections on the group’s journey to becoming nurses.
“When I was a freshman four years ago, this day seemed so distant and far away, but here we are,” he said. “Our great professors have gifted us the tools we need to be successful nurses. Now it’s up to us to build a better world.”
He added, “I’d like to express how proud I am of my fellow classmates, for persevering through all the challenges we have faced over the last four years.”
The ceremony’s keynote speaker was Linda Kelly, assistant professor of Nursing. Kelly discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape of education for the Class of 2022, giving them challenges they overcame with grace and determination.
“In the middle of your college experience, the world came crashing to a halt,” she said.
“Slowly but surely, we came to the collective realization that life as we knew it was forever altered.”
The nursing class soon adopted the motto “Stay positive, but test negative,” she said.
Kelly left the new graduates with some important words of wisdom: “As you enter the profession of nursing, find your voice and take yourself off mute. Advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
The graduates were thankful for the mentoring of the Mount’s nursing professors. Kiersten O’Rourke of Huntington Station, N.Y. applauded her professors for their tireless dedication: “Thank you for your encouragement and support,” she said.
The graduates were also full of praise for their families. Aimee Blickensdorfer was pinned by her mother, Maria, and her brother, Michael. “I would like to dedicate my pin to my mother,” she said. “Without all of her help, I would not have made it this far.”
Berté recognized several students for excellence. The award recipients were Hannah MacInnes of Monroe, N.Y., who was given the General Excellence in Nursing Award; Stephanie Lozada of Rhinebeck, N.Y., who received the School of Nursing Clinical Excellence Award; Thomas “TJ” Coyne of Staten Island, N.Y., who got the School of Nursing Leadership Award; Emily Bella of Bethpage, N.Y., who earned the Spirit of Nursing Award; and Katherine Gibbons of Salisbury Mills, N.Y., who received the Perseverance Award.
Lynette DeBellis, chair of the School of Nursing, presented the Sigma Theta Tau Leadership Award to Gibbons and Lozada. In addition, the Distinction and Service Award went to Coyne, Gibbons, Lozada, Taylor Ephraim of West Hempstead, N.Y., and Jillian Quick of Staten Island, N.Y.
To close out the ceremony, the proud graduates recited “A Nurse’s Prayer,” which speaks of dedicating one’s life to helping others.