Pinning Ceremonies on Horizon

Ahead of Virginia Peninsula Community College’s traditional graduation ceremony May 14, students, faculty and staff will celebrate success with two observances that are just as meaningful.

The dental hygiene pinning is April 18, and the nurse pinning is May 1. Both will be at the Peninsula Workforce Development Center.

“It’s a really exciting time,” said Jenni Jones, director of Allied Health and the Nursing Education programs.

There will be 20 nursing graduates, 17 from the day cohort and three from the evening/weekend cohort. They started the program in fall 2022 at the Hampton Campus.

Jones said the students are studying for their licensure exams, finals, and preparing for (or in some cases having) job interviews. When her pinning came around, Jones already had a job.

“It’s a very stressful and exciting, special time,” Jones said, adding the nurses should take time to realize what an accomplishment it is to graduate. “Even though it feels really stressful and hard right now, this is also a time they should be celebrating.”

 Jones has three nursing degrees, beginning in 2012 when she graduated from VPCC’s program.

“I remember all of my pinnings. I have a very special place in my heart for pinning ceremonies,” she said. “I (still) have all my pins.”

She recalls the fun she and her classmates had at the rehearsals, having formal portraits taken, and going out to celebrate afterward.

“I still have pictures that come up on my timeline on Facebook all the time and remind me of that time as a student,” she said.

The nursing pinning ceremony is rich in tradition, paying special homage to Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of modern nursing. What meant the most to Jones was being able to choose who placed the pin on her. She selected her parents and husband.

“Nursing school is really, really hard. Two years of my life were just nothing but studying and being upset most of the time,” Jones said. “Their support was really important to me, and to get to have them be the one to acknowledge my success and my completion was really, really special.”

Most students, Jones said, select one or two family members.

She has sage advice for students in their job search: be selective and learn about the organization.

“The environment that you go into, and the mission of the facility that you're joining is just as important as the fact that you've got a job,” Jones said. “Those things have to align or there's conflict. You're going through enough as a novice nurse, you don't want to have conflict.”

There are 10 graduates in the dental hygiene program, and they too started in fall 2022. Kelly Tanner, chair of the program, wants her students to know their future is unlimited.

“Whatever they decide they want to do, they can do it. This is just the beginning,” Tanner said.

She, too, remembers her pinning ceremony when she graduated from Old Dominion University.

“It was an honor to be recognized by the profession as an incoming professional,” she said. “You got to reflect on your success and how far you’ve come. It reinforced why you started your journey.”

Tanner was hired by the College as an instructor in 2010 and helped develop the pinning ceremony. It has remained mostly unchanged since. The highlight is the white coat ceremony. It differs from the nursing pinning in that members of the Peninsula Dental Hygienists’ Association place the coats on the students.

The event also features an awards ceremony with students being recognized for their leadership and grades.

Jones said this group has been special because it’s the first time in a number of years student liaisons attended faculty meetings.

“That interaction between faculty and students this graduating class is the model for how it should always be,” Jones said, pointing out Lauren Lewis, the liaison for this year’s senior class.

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