On Friday, May 13, family members, friends, faculty, and staff gathered to celebrate the nursing graduates from the Class of 2016 at the College’s annual Nursing Pinning Ceremony.

Nursing pinning first began when medals were given to outstanding graduates of nursing education programs. Gradually, the ritual expanded to include the pinning of all graduates as a way to recognize the successful completion of their nursing education. First held at Saint Joseph’s in 1978, Friday’s pinning ceremony recognized 95 nursing graduates: 21 from the bachelor’s program and 74 from the online master’s program.

President Jim Dlugos opened the ceremony, thanking the 200+ family members and friends in attendance for supporting their graduates along this journey. “My wife, Melissa, became a nurse after years of teaching college English classes. So believe me, I understand what you have been through—we now share a special bond,” President Dlugos joked, to knowing laughter.

Ending on a more serious note, the president gave his sincere compliments to the graduating class. “I offer my congratulations, the congratulations of the entire College community, and the congratulations of the Board of Trustees,” he said.

Ruth Smillie, associate professor of nursing, acted as the honored speaker, a role she’s held in previous years as well. Beloved by her students and peers alike, she was personally selected to leave the class with some parting words of wisdom.

In her address to the crowd and the graduates, Smillie delivered a heartfelt, humorous, and insightful speech. She relayed many tips for success in the nursing profession by elaborating on classic and catchy sayings, arguing that “Believe in yourself a little more” and “You only have a first day once” are more than just platitudes, they’re sound advice.

Smillie concluded her remarks with words of encouragement all her own: “Like many of our former graduates, you don't realize it, but you're going to be leaders, change-makers, advocates. You will shape nursing. And I am proud to have had the chance to know you.”

Following her speech, Reverend John McHugh, OFM Cap, the College’s chaplain, blessed the pins. As each graduate’s name was read aloud, they stepped forward to receive a pin from a family member or loved one in attendance. For Aaron and LisaMarie Simmons, a married couple who both completed their MSN degrees this year, that meant taking turns and swapping places in order to pin each other.

As part of the pinning tradition, each college or university’s pin is unique. The College’s pin was designed by its first nursing class, under the guidance of Sister Mary Consuela White. This round, crimson-edged pin has both words and symbols to represent the philosophy of the Department of Nursing and the College. The words “Care, Cure, and Console” are written across the top of the pin, while “Fortitude and Hope” enclose the circle at the bottom of the pin. At the center of the pin there is a shield with a cross and a Nightingale lamp with a flame.