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.
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.