School of Nursing Celebrates Graduates with In-Person Pinning Ceremony
By Ivy Burruto
Wednesday, September 2, 2020 4:24 PM
It was a school year that no one saw coming.
It started normally enough for the August 2020 cohort of the University of Rochester School of Nursing’s Accelerated Program for Non-Nurses. Last September they sat side by side in the auditorium of Helen Wood Hall for orientation, learning all about the intensive 12-month program they were about to begin.
One year later, they sat masked and six feet away from their closest classmate at a physically-distant in-person pinning ceremony.
The graduation celebration took place Aug. 26 at the Larry and Cindy Bloch Alumni and Advancement Center auditorium. Traditionally, family members and friends are invited to attend, but due to COVID-19 safety concerns, their well-wishes were shared in the comment section of the UR School of Nursing’s Facebook page as they watched the live-streamed event.
After welcoming the graduates, Dean Kathy Rideout, EdD, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, reminded the cohort of their resiliency and determined spirit to work in the face of adversity this past year.
Many students fulfilled their clinical hours on the frontlines of the global pandemic, while others volunteered with the Monroe County Health Department.
If combating a global pandemic and earning a nursing degree wasn’t enough, Rideout recalled students fighting racial injustice and health care disparities at the #URWhiteCoatsforBlackLives demonstration and the Rochester Black Nurses Association’s Black Nurses 4 Black Lives Rally and Vigil.
“All of these lessons and examples demonstrate a passion for serving; courage to share your fears and move forward despite of them; integrity and the commitment to the underserved; leadership in times of crisis; advocacy to our patients, families, and colleagues; altruism or selfishness; strong work ethic; commitment to excellence; and social and racial justice. It’s not a surprise that these are all the core values of nursing and have been demonstrated over and over again. I couldn’t be more proud of all you,” Rideout concluded.
After Rideout’s remarks, student speaker Prince Diaby took center stage to address the cohort.
Originally from the Ivory Coast and raised in Ghana, Diaby came to the U.S. in 1995. He has had a multitude of jobs and experiences in the succeeding years, including serving as a dance instructor at Garth Fagan Dance and the School of the Arts and receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. John Fisher College.
In 2019, however, he pursued his true calling of nursing at the University of Rochester.
Diaby echoed Dean Rideout’s encouraging sentiments of facing adversity. He recalled the moments he felt he wasn’t good enough, a feeling presumably shared between the cohort.
“We have all thought at some point that we weren’t good enough. At times it was content-related struggles, critical thinking on exams or vSim or iHuman,” Diaby continued, ”We were all a product of a decision we made at a crucial point in our lives. We simply decided and that decision crossed our paths.”
Lastly, Diaby encouraged the cohort to reflect on the previous year, ”Take a deep breath and aim at every single target, every goal and every desire. Do it while you’re afraid. Do it while you’re feeling the emotions that you’re just not good enough...Do it because of your life, your kids, your family. The nation. The world depends on it and when you aim, give it everything you’ve got.”
After receiving their pins and sashes, the graduates made their way to the sun-filled front lawn of the Advancement Center for a class photo. They spaced themselves safely six feet apart from each other and smiled up into the sky, a unique moment captured by a hovering drone.