by Jenny Gregory

CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMNews) –Truett-McConnell College honored 31 nursing students at the school’s first-ever pinning ceremony, Thursday, May 14. Each student graduated with their Bachelors of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) during the school’s largest commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 16th.

Family, friends, faculty and staff, filled the gymnasium in support of the graduating nurses during the ceremony, a tradition which began over 150 years ago by Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Celeste Dunnington, Associate Professor and Division Chair of Nursing at Truett-McConnell, shared of the significance of the pinning ceremony: “Nurses remain today one of the most trusted professions in the world,” she said. “This has been true for many, many years. Nurses are present when we enter the world and they are also present again as we leave this world. For most nurses, it’s a sacred calling.”

“The pinning ceremony signifies the completion of the graduating nursing students,” Dunnington said. “It is recognized as a right of passage, welcoming the students into the nursing profession. The nursing pin has become symbolically and literally a cross to bare, a medal and an honor.”

TMC President, Dr. Emir Caner, shared his excitement toward the first graduating class of nurses: “This could not have happened without the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The students know, they have heard it from me before, salvation is by grace and graduation is by works. And they have worked harder than anyone I know with the clinicals and the classrooms and everything else in between.”

Keynote speaker, Glenda Eitel, a nurse and missionary who has traveled to more than 25 countries, addressed the future nurses: “I would love to sit down with each one of you and hear what it is you think God has in store for you in the future because I think you have no idea what you are all in store for.”

Eitel also shared some of her experiences from both the nursing and mission fields. From one of her first blood drawings which didn’t go as planned, to going through difficult emotions of losing a patient, to circling back to find joy as she helped deliver a newborn baby, she emphasized the importance of showing Christ’s love.

“No matter where you serve, remember to serve the Lord with gladness,” Eitel said. “Show mercy, extend grace to the one’s you are caring for; a smile, a gentle touch to someone who has no hope or is feeling very terrified because they do not know what tomorrow may bring. Just sit by their bed and let them know you care.”

Senior nursing student, Eric Combs, who was elected by his classmates to speak on behalf of the graduating class said: “This is such a monumental night of celebration. The long nights of rigorous testing, clinicals, and skill assessments that nearly made us lose our minds, have brought us to this moment where we receive our nursing pins and lamps and are welcomed into the world of nursing by the professionals who have gone on before us.”

“May our night be filled with the freedom to celebrate what we have worked so hard to achieve.”

Certain students garnered special awards and are as follows:

The Senior/Junior Nursing Student of the Year Award

This is one of the highest honors bestowed upon a nursing student. The candidate must give evidence of outstanding professional behaviors, enhance the quality of life through compassionate care of patients, and display servant leadership toward patients, colleagues, and faculty. The student must also have a minimum of 3.5 cumulative GPA at the conclusion of the semester. Recipients for this award went to senior, Charity Estes and junior, Jordan Malaier.

Senior Nursing Leadership Award

This award is presented to the senior nursing student who excels in the nursing leadership role both in the clinical setting and the didactic classroom. The student must have a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative GPA at the conclusion of the final semester. This year’s Senior Nursing Leadership recipient was Kristen Loy.

Senior Nursing Servanthood Award

This award is presented to the senior nursing student who exercises appropriate clinical judgment, understands the reasoning behind specific nursing policies and standards of care, and accepts responsibility for continued development of the nursing profession while continuing their journey of Christian ministry and development of self. The student must have a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative GPA at the conclusion of the final semester. This year, the award went to two deserving seniors, Tesa Scarborough and Eric Combs.

2015 Nursing Graduates included:

Stephanie Andrea Abel

Devin Elizabeth Adams

Carolina Nohemi Alarcon

V’Netra Lynette Brown

Baylee Wynne Caudell

Lindsay Leigh Coleman

Eric Bradley Combs

Kayla Mabry Dalrymple

Charity Dawn Estes

Dallas Wayne Garrison

Christy Sinclair Green

Jessica Michelle Greene

Kaitlyn Garrison Horsley

Vanessa Hurtado

Jessica Nicole James

Kristen Rebekah Loy

Courtney Brooke Mashburn

Cynthia Chelsea Mundy

Dierdre Leigh Nichols

Christa Royster Perry

Amy Renee Poole

Katherine Leigh Price

Josie Brewer Rock

Cambree Kelsey Rose

Tesa Marie Scarborough

Rufina Serieux

Alicia Lynn Smith

Elizabeth Ashley Tosky

Paula Nicole Trimiar

Katelyn Rose Turner

Michele Ogburn Weaver

Once graduates received their pin, they formed a line at the front of the stage while students each lit a lamp, an important symbol of nursing which can also be traced back to Nightingale.

“During the Crimean war, [Nightingale] made history by taking 38 women to Turkey, to nurse sick and wounded British soldiers,” Dunnington said. “Often Nightingale was seen working late into the night carrying a lamp to visit the bedside of patients. Earning the nickname ‘Lady with the Lamp,’ the icon became a symbol of nursing.

Nurses in the audience were invited to stand along with the graduates and read the “The Nightingale Pledge,” an oath and pledge named as a token of esteem for Nightingale.

In closing, Dr. Brad Reynolds, Truett-McConnell’s Vice President for Academic Services, shared the Good News of Jesus Christ and a word of prayer for the pin recipients as they begin their journey into the nursing field.


Jenny is the Content Manager for Truett-McConnell College.

Photo/Adam Roark

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