The Nursing Class of 2022 Hosts Their Own Nursing Appreciation Ceremony


Emily Teixeira

This year, when Pace’s Leinhard School of Nursing informed the graduating class that they would not be reviving their annual pinning ceremony, the students took it upon themselves to host one on their own.

Emily Teixeira

On May 11 at 5 p.m., this year’s graduating class of nursing students hosted their own Nursing Appreciation Ceremony in place of the pinning ceremony hosted by the Leinhard School of Nursing prior to the pandemic.

“[The pinning ceremony] was considered by many nursing students to be their actual graduation,” says graduating nursing student Thayna Alicea. “Once covid hit, the ceremony was removed. Since numbers have been down this year students asked the faculty if the ceremony would return.”

However, the nursing school said that they would not be reviving the ceremony for “religious purposes”; the ceremony involves the recitation of a pledge originally written by Florence Nightingale that contains references to faith and God. Students proposed using a modified, secular version of the pledge in order to be more inclusive of different beliefs, but the school still denied their request.

Graduating nursing student Viviana Martinez says that this decision did not surprise her.

“Unfortunately, it is a common phenomenon that nursing students often get disregarded,” Martinez says. “Within these past four years, we have experienced countless changes within our curriculum and continuously lacked support from faculty throughout it all, even during a pandemic. The university failing to honor us through the pinning ceremony is just another example added to the pile proving the lack of support, encouragement, and concern for nursing students… We are continuously told how important our profession is and how meaningful we are to healthcare, especially during a pandemic, but Pace fails to acknowledge any of this from the student perspective.”

Alicea was also upset that Pace would not be holding a pinning ceremony for her class. She believed that she deserved recognition after all her hard work, so she and fellow nursing student Grainne McGinley decided to take matters into their own hands.

McGinley and Alicea delivering the opening address at the Nursing Appreciation Ceremony. (Emily Teixeira)

“The ceremony was originally Grainne’s idea,” Alicea says. “I talked to her about it and decided I wanted to help, so we co-hosted the ceremony together. The process was stressful, mainly because it was a student-run event, and we received no financial assistance from the Leinhard School of Nursing or Pace at all.”

Together, McGinley and Alicea collected donations of up to five dollars from their fellow nursing students and used the money to but decorations and food. Students were also encouraged to bring food to the ceremony. They borrowed decorations from other organizations with similar color palettes, and they used the printing money in their school accounts for flyers.

A cookie cake purchased as part of the refreshment spread at the ceremony. (Emily Teixeira)

“Traditionally, the school would provide the pin for every student, but because of the limited funds we decided to make the ceremony BYOP (Bring your own pin),” Alicea says.

The ceremony opened with a welcome address from Alicea and McGinley. From there, they invited each graduating nursing student up to the stage alongside a friend or family member of their choice to present them with their pin. After all the names were called, Martinez gave a speech about the nursing student experience, in which she reflected on her class’s journey over the course of the past four years and congratulated everyone on all the struggles, challenges, anxiety, and sleep deprivation they overcame.

Martinez delivering her speech. (Emily Teixeira)

The students then honored clinical assistant professor Elizabeth Berro with an award thanking her for all her support.

Alicea says that the ceremony went even better than she expected and that before it began, she and the others who helped run it had to scramble to find more chairs for everyone who showed up to support the graduates.

“I could not be prouder and happier of how the ceremony went,” Martinez says. “All in all, this celebration was a way to commemorate the past four years that my cohort and I went through and celebrate our great achievement of completing nursing school and graduating… To me, this celebration signifies the resilience that we all embody and our ability to support and uplift one another as students even if it means doing it on our own. Together as a team, we made a special celebration happen.”

Emily Teixeira

Alicea views the ceremony as an act of defiance and believes that it holds symbolic importance for Pace’s nursing students.

“The past couple of years we have had so much taken away from us due to the pandemic,” Alicea says. “We have struggled so much with not only our academic lives, but also our personal ones…We chose to persevere despite all that was thrown at us and that includes this ceremony.”

Alicea and Martinez are unsure whether or not Pace will host a pinning ceremony for the graduating nursing students next year, but Martinez hopes that, even if the school chooses not to reinstate it, the students continue to host their own ceremony, “not only continue a tradition that is so important to the history of our profession and to celebrate our achievements, but to also prove to Pace that we, as students, are a lot stronger, brighter, and resilient than they make us out to be.”

Emily Teixeira