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Pinning Ceremony Celebrates Nursing Grads

School of Nursing tradition symbolizes the growth of student nurses into confident professionals

Posted in: Homepage News, Nursing, University

A long line of students wearing formal black clothing walk into the ceremony.
The Pinning Ceremony began with a procession of the 53 graduates from the Master of Science in Nursing, RN to BSN and Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs.

Gianna DeRienzo, a graduating senior at Montclair State University, remembers opening her acceptance letter to the School of Nursing “and jumping up and down like a kid.” Little did she know what the next four years would entail, including, she recalls, grueling 12-hour clinical days – “an experience that not many other majors can relate to.”

As part of the School of Nursing’s observation of National Nurses Week and National Nurses Month, the University held a traditional pinning ceremony, a rite of passage held on May 5 that marks the transition from student nurse to professional nurse. The graduates celebrated with family, friends and faculty, a formal event that paid tribute to their journey.

“You have seen us grow, from being scared to wake a patient up for morning vitals, to administering meds with confidence,” DeRienzo, who served as student speaker, told the gathering.

Four nursing students pose together wearing formal black clothing with red roses
The School of Nursing recognized the Class of 2023 with a formal pinning ceremony, a traditional rite of passage for graduating nurses. Celebrating their achievements, from left, are Aisha Shabbir, Aleida Smack, Jenna Khansa and Madison Lawton.

The American Nurses Association chose for 2023 the theme “You Make a Difference.” Faculty speaker Elsie Alabi-Gonzalez, herself a graduate of Montclair’s nursing programs, tweaked the phrase, telling the nursing graduates, “You make the difference.”

“We encounter people at all stages of life. At any given time, there is a nurse watching as one individual takes their first breath, while another nurse watches someone take their last breath. In both instances and everything in between, our impact is felt,” Gonzalez said.

Last year, the School of Nursing held its pinning ceremony live on NBC’s The Today Show as part of the program’s Nurses Week. While this year’s ceremony wasn’t seen by millions, it was memorable for the family and friends of the 53 graduates of the Master of Science in Nursing, RN to BSN and Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs.

“Some of you have had your blood pressure taken more times than you would like to admit, or remember, and others have had to sit through physical assessments and patient education. You complain of a headache and now you have to play 20 questions with your student nurse,” Gonzalez joked.

Photo Gallery

A couple embrace on stage.
Every graduate was presented with a stole adorned with the nursing pin. Yaakov Diner, who earned his Master of Science in Nursing, receives his pin from his wife, Tamara Leah Diner.
Two sisters show emotion during ceremony.
Sisters Melanie, left, and Jazmin Carvajal are overcome with emotions as they pinned each other. They earned Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.
A small child and a young woman hug a male nursing student on the stage.
David Mansaray, who earned his Master of Science in Nursing, is honored at the pinning ceremony by his daughter and cousin.
Elsie Alabi-Gonzalez speaking at a podium
Clinical Specialist Elsie Alabi-Gonzalez delivers faculty remarks. She is a graduate of Montclair’s nursing programs, earning degrees in the Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Nursing programs. “We have watched you all blossom from people who were hesitant to enter a patient’s room to nurses in training who create and implement a plan of care,” she told this year’s graduates.
A faculty member presents an award to a female student.
Gianna DeRienzo, right, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and served as president of the Student Nurses Association, received the “Clinical Excellence Award” from Pre-licensure Nursing Director Elizabeth Zweighaft. Awards also went to Catherine Munkittrick and Helena Van Vliet for “Academic Excellence in Nursing,” Layan Rhazi and Aisha Shabbir for “Spirit of Nursing” and Melissa Fede for “Clinical Excellence.”
Graduates hold candles and read from a program.
Graduates recite the International Council of Nurses Pledge, committing to uphold the ethical and professional standards of nursing.
A student holding flowers poses for a photo.
Family, faculty and friends celebrated the graduates’ achievements. Yasmeen Salman, who earned the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, is photographed after the ceremony.
A group of nursing faculty members smiling
From L to R: Nursing faculty members Elsie Alabi-Gonzalez, Nastassia Davis, Harriet Sarkodie, Marnie Weiss, Courtney Reinisch, Sarah Kelly, Yanick Joseph, Rachel Lyons, Marybeth Duffy and Deb Brouwer.
A happy face balloon with a nurse’s cap floats about a crowd of people.
A festival ending with balloons.

Story by Marilyn Joyce Lehren. Photos by John J. LaRosa

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