Drive-in pinning ceremony welcomes graduates to nursing profession

These candles were part of a prerecorded video that was shown at the Nursing program’s drive-in pinning ceremony.

The SMCC Nursing program held a drive-in pinning ceremony to pay tribute to its fall graduates and welcome them to the nursing profession.

Graduating students, families, friends, faculty and others gathered in their cars on the evening Dec. 19 in a parking lot at the Clarion Hotel in Portland, where they watched a prerecorded 28-minute video with photos, speeches, testimonials and music. The video was projected onto the side of the hotel and the audio was broadcast on an FM frequency through the cars’ radio speakers.

After the video, the graduating students got out of their cars — with masks and physical distancing — to light their Nightingale candles and take the Nightingale pledge, a time-honored tradition at which students are welcomed into the nursing profession. The ceremony is named after Florence Nightingale, who is credited with laying the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of a nursing school in London in 1860.

The ceremony for the 42 students in the graduating class was particularly meaningful because of the challenges that students have faced the past nine months during the coronavirus pandemic, said Nursing program Chair Michael Nozdrovicky.

“It’s been a long time since the students have even been able to get together, so it was wonderful for them to come together for the ceremony,” Nozdrovicky said. “I have to say it was very significant and moving for me to be a part of that.”

The idea for the ceremony was spearheaded by students Meredith Treat (who is president of the Nursing Club), Heather Emmons and Erika Foster. Nozdrovicky, Nursing Department Administrator Lisa LeDuc, Nursing Professor Martha Vrana-Bossart, and Communications & New Media Studies Chair Kate Sibole discussed how to do a video. Sibole, LeDuc and one of Sibole’s students, Jasmine Lambert, then put the video together.

In normal years, pinning ceremonies are held in person. Last spring, the nursing program held a virtual ceremony by producing a video that was made available on YouTube.