SOMD – The College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) 67 nursing candidates for Spring 2021 graduation celebrated their achievements May 12 by attending their recognition and pinning ceremony – a time-honored event that has CSM faculty welcoming their students as peers and colleagues in the field of nursing.

Like much of their last year together – the cohort gathered in a virtual environment – this time to share the tradition that included speeches, photo collages and the offering of the CSM nursing pin.

CSM Professor Robin Madera spoke first about the importance and history of the CSM nursing pin.  She explained how the modern pinning ceremony dates 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. 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 United States.

“It was decades ago when CSM’s first pin was designed by the first RN class to ever graduate from the college in 1979,” continued Madera, who added that the current pin was custom designed by nursing classmates in 2001.

“Our CSM nursing pin symbolizes a rite of passage that you will now be caring for patients with commitment, honor, and courage,” Madera said. 

Before recognizing all the of the new nurses by name, Madera remembered CSM nursing student Jaycee Lynn Vermillion, of Nanjemoy, who unexpectedly passed away June 19, 2020, and who would have graduated with this class.

“Her gift to the nursing profession will be missed,” Madera shared before the class shared a moment of silence in tribute to her.

‘Nursing School Still Went On’

“It wasn’t too long ago that we were all stalking the mailbox everyday looking for that envelope from the College of Southern Maryland,” said Kaci Ranly, of Prince Frederick, who served as the ceremony’s class speaker. “You hoped that inside the envelope would be an acceptance letter into the upcoming nursing program that you had worked so hard to get into. Although we felt we were on cloud nine, we clearly had no idea what we were about to encounter. Who would have thought that laundry could sit in the same spot for a whole month, or that your kitchen sink could hold two weeks’ worth of dishes? Not to mention, the countless hours on zoom with your study group or inserting IVs into stuffed animals. We didn’t even notice, but this became our normal.

“One of the biggest adversities the class of 2021 goes without saying: The Pandemic,” said Ranly, who appears at left in a photo with her children. “There was that one day that we immediately stopped in-person clinicals, as well as theory during second semester, not knowing how long it would last.

“When things began to shut down, nursing school still went on,” she added. “When daycares shut down, leaving some of us to tend to our children while zooming into class, nursing school still went on. The school system went virtual, leaving us no choice but to become teachers, nursing school still went on. Some of our spouses and partners started teleworking and together we fumbled through sharing the housework and daily responsibilities, nursing school still went on. This pandemic may have changed a lot of things, but the one thing that didn’t change was our drive and desire to succeed as nurses.  Because nursing school would still go on.”

Celebrating her fellow students with praise, Ranly reminded them, “At this point none of us should be afraid of any challenges or setbacks that we will encounter. If anything, we are more prepared now than ever to face them head up because we have survived nursing school and we have achieved greatness.”

‘Overcoming Adversity is Stepping Stone to Greatness’

“Each of you have faced adversity one way or another during your time in nursing school,” offered Dr. Sara Cano, RN and CSM acting chair of the nursing program. “During the best of circumstances, you would have been challenged by life events, but, as you have experienced during the last year, the onset and prevalence of a pandemic have increased the risk of experiencing adversity.”

Cano likened the nursing students journey to juggling many spinning plates while maintaining an eye on the prize.

“You have experienced increased levels of quarantine-related issues. Stress, feelings of anxiety, sadness, and despair, sickness, untimely loss of a dear friend and classmate, and experienced the grief that followed. You felt that there was not enough time to do and care for all, school, family, and self. Nevertheless, you persisted. Nevertheless, you overcame. Resilience is tied to adversity. In nursing, resilience is the ability to bounce back or cope successfully despite adversity. You have done just that.”

Amid applause and shouts of congratulations, the following CSM students were announced as candidates for graduation with associate degrees in Nursing by their professors during the evening Zoom celebration:

  • Rachell Amaoui
  • Ndep Ebha Noella Assam
  • Rachael Baker
  • Rachel Whitney Baker
  • Titilola Batson
  • Natalie Kay Beers
  • Emily K. Blasy *Recognized for receiving the Academic Achievement in Nursing Award
  • Tierra Michelle Boyd
  • Shatoya Bryan
  • Michael Todd Cash
  • Alexander Chung
  • Brooke Clemencia
  • Jenna Courville
  • Kaitlyn P. Culbert
  • Danielle Dowz
  • Brittanie Durham
  • Lauren Edwards
  • Ashley Elao
  • Jacob Ellwood
  • Charlene Yvette English
  • Madalyn Marie Fagan
  • Lynzie M. Farr
  • Alexis M. Gayon
  • Sarah Golba
  • Karen Gross
  • Jessica Hammett
  • Emily Hanson
  • Ashley R. Harris
  • Trinette Herring
  • Nichole L. Hutson
  • Markita Jackson
  • Julia Jacoby
  • Divina Jaluag
  • Diana Karimi
  • Ann Kempster
  • Amy Marie King
  • Leah Danielle Long
  • Andrei Maderazo
  • Joy A. Marsiglia
  • Ashley Marie McGuigan
  • Jayda Elise McLeod
  • Charissa Kay Castillo Melchor
  • Eve Kayiki Mondenge
  • Shayla Mundey
  • Ashley Nicole Nelson
  • Autumn Norvell
  • Morgan Ostrowski
  • Emily N. Pipkin
  • Casey J. Powell
  • Lauren Proctor
  • Tamea Proctor
  • Jaclyn Pryor
  • Farhat S. Qureshi
  • Kaci M. Ranly
  • Erica M. Rawlings
  • Lauren Richardson
  • Dianna Renee Russo *Recognized for receiving the Achievement in Nursing Award
  • Ashley Chevonne Smith-Commodore
  • Bria A. Smith
  • Sara Joy Smith
  • Natasha Tesi
  • Amanda Ullman
  • Emily B. Whetstone
  • Bailey White
  • Brianna Whites
  • Lauren Winkler
  • Allison Zollars-Teitelbaum

Follow CSM in Facebook and tune in today, May 14, at 1 p.m. for the Facebook Watch Party of CSM’s 62nd Spring Commencement.