On Friday, May 8, family members, friends, faculty, and staff gathered to celebrate the class of 2015 nursing graduates at Saint Joseph’s College’s annual Nursing Pinning Ceremony.

First held at Saint Joseph’s in 1978, Friday’s pinning ceremony recognized 78 nursing graduates: 66 from the College’s bachelor’s program, and 12 from the online master’s program.

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 to indicate the successful completion of their nursing education.

“The pinning ceremony dates back to the 1860s,” said Lynette Hamlin, the College’s associate dean of nursing. “Florence Nightingale was awarded the Red Cross of Saint George in recognition of her tireless service to the injured during the war.

“By 1916, the practice of pinning graduates was standard throughout the United States.”

The ceremony was opened by President Jim Dlugos, who reflected on the significance nurses have in our communities. “As I look around,” he said, “I see nurses everywhere. I’ve come to realize that nurses run the world. We know that the training in our nursing programs has prepared you to be wonderful caregivers and caretakers for the patients and their families that you will meet in the years to come. We have great confidence that your liberal arts education here at Saint Joseph’s College, in the Mercy tradition, has prepared you well to run the world.”

Associate professor of nursing Ruth Smillie was recognized at the event as the honored speaker, a role that she was selected for by her students and peers.

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, where she stressed the need to live the lifestyle that the graduates, as nurses, will profess to their patients.

Smillie concluded her remarks with words of encouragement: “Congratulations, Saint Joseph’s nursing class of 2015. Go be amazing.”

At that time, Reverend John McHugh, OFM (Cap.), the College’s chaplain, blessed the pins. They were then presented to the graduates by assistant professor of nursing Denise Blais, as assistant professors John Tuskan and Sara Germann read the names of the graduates.

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.