UPIKE nursing students honored during a virtual pinning ceremony

The University of Pikeville Elliott School of Nursing honored 44 new nurses during the 36th annual, and first virtual, nurse’s pinning ceremony on April 30, 2020, via a Zoom call that was broadcast live on UPIKE’s Facebook page. The traditional celebration was postponed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. An in-person celebration will be scheduled when restrictions are lifted.

Karen Damron, Ph.D., RN, dean of the College of Nursing and Human Services, addressed the graduates, praising their hard work and commitment to finish amid the difficulties placed on them by the pandemic during the last half of the semester.

“This virtual ceremony isn’t the kind of event we imagined, but it is historic,” said Damron. “We are so proud of you, and we know you can rise to the challenges put before you.”

Assistant Professor of Nursing, Tansy Hall, DNP, recited the Florence Nightingale Pledge during the ceremony. The traditional pinning ceremony dates to the 1860s and was adopted by Nightingale to honor her most outstanding graduate nurses.

Jonathan Mullins of Pikeville, Ky., was the recipient of the Elizabeth Akers Elliott Award, selected by the nursing faculty as a student who “best exemplifies the very essence of nursing, that combines qualities of critical thinking, professional judgment and caring, and that exceeds what is expected of a new graduate.” The award also holds special significance for the family of Elizabeth Akers Elliott, as they established a trust fund to launch the nursing program in her memory.

The Spirit of Nursing Award, an honor bestowed by fellow classmates to the nursing student they would most like to have care for themselves or their family, was presented to Jeremy Cantrell of Mouthcard, Ky. Abbey Duncan of Visalia, Ky., received the Vivian Day Award, presented to the graduate who achieved the highest grade-point average in nursing courses.

Damron also gave a tearful tribute to Joseph Valentine, a nursing student who began the program in the fall of 2018, but lost his life in a fatal car accident the following December.

“He left an empty seat in the class and a huge hole in our hearts,” Damron said. “Joe, you will forever be a member of the Class of 2020.”