CSM pinning ceremony celebrates 38 nursing graduates

Patrick Allen of Prince William County joins St. Mary’s County nursing graduates who, after him in the front row from left, are Jacqueline Austin, Lenita Balsbough, Jocelyn Carter, Dara DeCola, Allison Deese, Stephen Dickinson and Jennifer Nagy. St. Mary’s County graduates in the back row from left are Frances O’Hara, Stephanie Pankiewicz, Rebecca Schramm, Zachary Teston, Ashley Thompson, Marilaan Van Der Merwe, Katrina Wagaman and Meghan Williams.

During the College of Southern Maryland’s nursing recognition ceremony Jan. 17, as part of the college’s 20th winter commencement, 38 associate degree nursing candidates received their nursing pins.

“The nursing pin is a treasured symbol from your school,” Annette Ragland, CSM nursing professor told the graduates and their families during the ceremony, according to a release from the college. “Let this pin be a constant reminder of your desire and commitment to serve others. It is a medal of honor and it is also a badge of courage.”

Ragland went on to tell the audience how the modern pinning ceremony dates back to the 1860s, when Florence Nightingale was awarded the Red Cross of St. George in recognition for her tireless service to the injured during the Crimean War. According to Healthcare Marketplace, “to share the honor, [Nightingale] in turn presented a medal of excellence to her brightest graduates and by 1916, the practice of pinning new graduates was standard throughout the U.S.”

“It was decades ago when the first pin was designed by the first RN class to ever graduate from the college in 1979,” continued Ragland, who added that the current pin was custom designed by the college’s nursing faculty and students to reflect the first graduating class of CSM in 2001.

“This pin connects you with every nurse who has come before you,” she said.

Janice Bonham, guest speaker and retired nursing professor, spoke fondly of her time at CSM and welcomed her “fellow nurses” to their profession. “Soon you will say, ‘I am a registered nurse.’” Bonham said. “Five little words that mean so much.”

Representing the nursing class as student speaker, Kitomila Turner recalled the hours, days, weeks and months of studying, testing, failing and succeeding. But she received thunderous laughs and applause when she reminded her fellow classmates that the most important lesson they all learned over the last two years was, “Wash Your Hands!”

“When anyone asks me where I went to school,” she boasted, “I will proudly say, ‘the College of Southern Maryland.’”

Rachel Turner, 21, of Waldorf was awarded the CSM Health Sciences Division Achievement in Nursing Award, presented to the graduate who demonstrates academic achievement, clinical competence, community service and leadership potential. The day was especially sweet for Turner, who learned two days before the ceremony that she would soon begin her career as a registered nurse at Washington Hospital Center’s in the stroke unit.

Marilaan van der Merwe, 25, of Leonardtown was awarded the CSM Health Sciences Division Academic Achievement, given to the graduate with the highest grade point average in the class. Van der Merwe — a South African citizen who came to the United States in 2012 as an au pair — entered CSM’s nursing program in spring 2017. During the evenings’ cap and gown ceremony, van der Merwe walked across the stage with the words “Not All Angels Have Wings — Some Have Stethoscopes” embossed on her graduation cap.

The following CSM students from St. Mary’s graduated with associate degrees in nursing on Jan. 17: Jacqueline Austin, Lenita Balsbough, Jocelyn Carter, Dara DeCola, Allison Deese, Stephen Dickinson, Jennifer Nagy, Frances O’Hara, Stephanie Pankiewicz, Rebecca Schramm, Zachary Teston, Ashley Thompson, Marilaan Van Der Merwe, Katrina Wagaman and Meghan Williams.