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Nursing students keep tradition with pinning parade in parking lot

GRAYSLAKE – College of Lake County nursing students celebrated their graduation with faculty on June 13. Thirty-three students completed their nursing degrees and participated in a nontraditional pinning ceremony in a parking lot parade. With the help of CLC police and custodial and grounds crews, faculty and staff waved signs in celebration as graduates drove by in decorated cars to accept their pins.

“I wanted to celebrate our accomplishments with friends and family even though a traditional ceremony was not feasible in this unprecedented time,” nursing student Rachel Adams said.

She helped prepare for the ceremony. 

“Sharing this moment with our instructors is so special because they have been our cheerleaders and challenged us to do things we never thought we could do,” Adams said. 

The pinning ceremony is a time-honored nursing school tradition. The modern 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, she in turn presented a medal of excellence to her brightest graduates. By 1916, the practice of pinning new graduates was standard throughout the U.S.  

At CLC, new nurses are traditionally presented with nursing pins by a faculty member or a loved one chosen by the graduate who has been important to them in their nursing education. The pinning ceremony symbolizes the graduate’s achievement of completing the educational requirements and marks their transition into the profession.  

“While our traditional pinning ceremony is more intimate, this parking lot parade still celebrated new nursing graduates and their families as well as faculty members,” CLC nursing instructor Mary Scheffler said. “We were so proud to see our students take pride for all their hard work and accomplishments. It was a great ceremony given the situation and we look forward to hearing back from our students as they pursue their new career.” 

Adams added, “Any nurse you ask will tell you that the pinning ceremony is like a rite of passage, more important than the actual graduation ceremony. I wanted to make sure that COVID didn’t take that away from us.”  

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