Widener Nurses Celebrate Graduation at Nightingale

Students at Nightingale Ceremony
The School of Nursing celebrated approximately 180 nursing students at the annual event.

The School of Nursing celebrated the Class of 2019 at the annual Nightingale Ceremony. Named after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, the ceremony is a longstanding tradition that symbolizes the students’ transition into the nursing field ahead of commencement.

Approximately 180 graduating students took the “International Pledge for Nurses” in the company of faculty, friends and family, acknowledging their obligation to always provide the highest level of care for those in need regardless of background, including race, gender and religion. As the students recited the pledge, they lit lantern candles, a symbolic gesture in which the flame represents the human spirit that is at the core of healing.

During the ceremony, President Julie E. Wollman reflected on the critically important role that graduates will step into following commencement.

“Nurses are the core of health care and they make all the difference and for that I thank you,” Wollman said. “Your work is not only lifesaving, but it can be life changing.”

In her keynote address, Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH, emphasized the need for advocacy within the nursing profession.

“Nursing is about making the whole world better, every part of it, all the time,” Summers said. “I believe as nurses it is our job to protect not just the patients in the bed who line the floor, but everyone on earth.”

As founder and executive director of The Truth About Nursing, a nonprofit that focuses on changing global perceptions of nursing by challenging negative media depictions of nurses, Summers shared her experience advocating for the respect of all nurses as means to improve health care delivery and outcomes.

Whether through advocacy or policy action, Summers outlined that “nurses especially must speak out against the many forces that underline health.” Summers encouraged the graduates to lead the next generation of health care providers and create effective policy changes, just as Nightingale did.

Carolian Doane was chosen as the student speaker. Reflecting on the past four years of nursing school, Doane explained that their success was driven by passion for the profession and the support of their peers. Doane also noted that success was achieved through grit thanks to the advice of the late Dr. Susan Mills.

“She always said that nursing school took grit; that we needed to be resilient – and she was right” Doane said.

Doane dared her classmates to carry the passion, support and grit they experienced in nursing school with them into the field.

“Be passionate about your work, support your patients, and have the grit to get through your toughest of days, because as nurses we have to give everything we have. Not only for our patients, but for ourselves.”

Photos of the ceremony can be found here. 

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