“Right now, you stand at the precipice of long and rewarding careers of service and giving back to others. You’ve completed your courses, your laboratory work and your clinical experiences, and you are ready for whatever comes next.”
Marymount University President Irma Becerra motivated Nursing graduates of the Class of 2021 with those words on Thursday evening in Marymount’s Spring 2021 Nursing Pinning Ceremony, held in the Lee Center on Main Campus. Carrying a rich tradition in the nursing profession, pinning ceremonies are a symbolic welcoming of soon-to-be graduated nurses into the career field, and serve as a testament to their hard work and dedication over their years of study.
This semester, a total of 60 Nursing students from Marymount are graduating and will be joining the front lines of the continuing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that number, 38 students completed the traditional four-year BSN program while 22 were students in the University’s accelerated BSN program, which is available for individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field and are aiming to switch careers.
Renowned and well-known for success, graduates from Marymount’s Nursing programs have a first-time pass rate of greater than 90 percent on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for the past five years.
“A Nursing degree from Marymount is a significant step towards a fulfilling career. It has a high value, and is the foundation for professional practice,” President Becerra explained. “We have a solid reputation for preparing knowledgeable, skilled and caring nursing professionals – and health care agencies locally, nationally and internationally appreciate and recruit our graduates. They always come back to us, saying our Saints were exceedingly prepared and ready for their roles and have made a difference.”
Not only do Marymount Nursing graduates serve communities as clinically excellent nurses, but as ambassadors of the profession. Class of 2021 members have already demonstrated this throughout the spring semester, volunteering their time in clinics like the Lubber Run Community Center to assist Arlington County’s efforts to vaccinate residents across the region. With the help of Marymount Saints, the County has been vaccinating about 1,000 people against COVID-19 every day.
They have also played a crucial role in the University’s own COVID-19 vaccination clinics, closely monitoring recipients of the vaccine for any potential side effects or reactions while also working hand-in-hand with organizers from the Army National Guard and Safeway. During the first clinic at the Lee Center on April 21, a total of 1,174 individuals received the Pfizer vaccine – and in the University’s second clinic this week, 1,056 returned for their second dose. An additional 15 individuals also received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine during the second clinic.
During the pinning ceremony, graduates heard from two student speakers. The first, Nicholaus Huff, completed the accelerated BSN track and was lauded by his professors for balancing the needs of his children and their schoolwork during the pandemic with his own courses and responsibilities. He will join his wife, Rachael, in the nursing profession, and is striving to make a difference in the lives of others.
“You do not have to be a nurse to make the world a better place – but as nurses, we have been given the unique opportunity to care for people during their most challenging and frightening times in a way that says, ‘you are worth it,’” Huff told the graduating Nursing class. “When sickness and suffering have stripped away hope, we are there to remind them of their inherent dignity as a person who matters to the world. In loving our patients, we show others how to love the sick and marginalized. Love is what the world needs – true love elevates humanity.”
For more on Huff’s journey, click here to read his feature story on Marymount’s website.
Also speaking in the pinning ceremony was Aidan Phillips, a graduate from the traditional BSN track. A captain on the Marymount Women’s Basketball team, she has balanced a rigorous course load over the past four years with the demands of a championship-level NCAA Division III team.
“As nurses, we will embark on one of the hardest, yet most rewarding expeditions of our lives,” Phillips stated in her remarks. “We will witness new life enter our world, and hold the hands of those moving on to the next. We will witness miraculous recoveries from devastating injuries and we will support and stand by patients who decide to let go. We will cry tears of joy and sorrow. But in all of those moments, we will never lose sight of what it means to be a nurse. For in each and every one of you I see toughness and grit, I see love and care, I see confidence and compassion – and through all of it, I see a nurse.”