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Nursing students keep tradition with parking lot pinning parade

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Jun 16, 2020

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

CLC instructors holding signs for students at the parade“I wanted to celebrate our accomplishments with friends and family even though a traditional ceremony was not feasible in this unprecedented time,” said nursing student Rachel Adams. 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.”

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.

CLC graduate receiving award from instructor at the paradeAt CLC, the 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.

CLC graduate holding up sign during the parade“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,” said CLC nursing instructor Mary Scheffler. “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.”

About College of Lake County:

The College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.