The journey to becoming a nurse requires hard work, endurance—and plenty of support along the way.
It’s a lot like a marathon.
And leading up to the finish line, there are milestone moments aimed at recognizing students’ achievements. That’s exactly what the Pinning and White Coat ceremonies are all about, two time-honored traditions in the field that underscore just how important nurses are to the community, congratulate students on their accomplishments, and help forge a strong nursing fellowship.
The Pinning Ceremony for 57 graduating seniors in Nursing was on May 7, and loved ones had the opportunity to do the pinning honors. As Nursing and Health Professions Dean Rhoberta Haley, PhD, explained at the event, the roots of the tradition date to the 1860s when Florence Nightingale—known as the founder of modern nursing—was awarded the Red Cross of St. George for her service.
Pinning ceremonies later grew to mark the beginning of a nurse’s career.
“A pinning ceremony is a time to welcome newly graduating nurses to the profession,” Haley told attendees. “We gather for this occasion to mark the transition from student nurse to graduate nurse, and to celebrate the start of a professional practice in nursing.” Haley added Chaminade’s unique Nursing pin symbolizes a life dedicated to professional health care and service to others.
“Please wear it proudly,” she told graduates, “and with our very best wishes.”
Leilani Higashi intends to do just that. She said the ceremony was the perfect conclusion to her preparation as a nurse and the perfect beginning to her life as a nurse. “Pinning to me is like the final recognition. There’s no more, ‘Let me check with the nurse.’ We are the nurses,” she said.
Higashi said she went into nursing after growing up taking care of her grandfather.
“I got to meet so many amazing nurses that were part of his care team,” Higashi said. “I wanted to provide that same care and comfort that they did for us to other people. Now I’m looking forward to new adventures and I can’t wait to get out into the workforce and help my community.”
Graduating senior Zane Biscocho was beaming after the ceremony.
“This is a congratulations and a ‘you made it,’” he said, adding that he hopes to serve in Hawaii.
Katelyn Toba also described the Pinning Ceremony as a celebration. She said the four years of nursing school have been difficult, but she has appreciated the support of her loved ones, friends and professors. “Chaminade has that family spirit and it helped me over the years,” she said.
Graduate Taryn Sagapolu said the gathering “felt like an accomplishment after all the hard work.”
Sagapolu attended the ceremony with her parents, both of whom are nurses.
“We know it’s the hardest thing ever,” said her mother, Sharon, after the event. “She saw us both come home exhausted, especially during the COVID pandemic. But she never gave up.” Sagapolu’s father, Kamaki, agreed. “We are so proud of you,” he told his daughter, giving her a big hug.
A day before the Pinning Ceremony, 122 members of Chaminade’s Nursing junior class and their relatives and friends gathered for the White Coat Ceremony. The event recognizes students’ entry into the health profession as they undertake clinical education. After receiving their white coats, students took the International Council of Nurses pledge to uphold nursing ethics and deliver the best care.
In her address to attendees, Haley pointed out that nursing is the most trusted profession in the country. It is critical to maintain that bond of trust, she added, and for every nursing student to fully understand the duties and obligations of the profession before they ever see their first patient.
“Nursing is both a respected science and a caring art,” Haley said. “Your success will depend on your ability to understand and apply ethical and professional values. Over a lifetime in nursing, you will repeatedly turn to these values, depending on them as the foundation of your practice.”
Among those key values: responsibility, trustworthiness, honesty and respect. “At Chaminade, we believe in these values and are committed to helping you achieve your highest level of performance and providing assistance when needed,” she said. “It is a privilege for Nursing faculty and staff to promote professionalism and share what we know and love about nursing with our students.”
The White Coat Ceremony is traditionally conducted in students’ sophomore year, but the COVID pandemic meant the event couldn’t be held last year. A ceremony for sophomores will be held this Fall.
Junior Autumn Fairall was moved after getting her white coat.
She said she has wanted to be a nurse since she was 10, when she diagnosed with leukemia and “blessed with a kind and capable medical team. The nurses who took care of me daily inspired me.”
Fairall said that day-to-day, it’s easy to focus on the challenges of nursing school.
But the ceremony reminded her of all that she has overcome and accomplished. “The White Coat Ceremony was a time of celebration, both of the hard work complete and the blessings that will come,” she said. “I am looking forward to working as a nurse and giving back what previous nurses gave me.”
Student Hannah Hovestol said she went into Nursing because she wants to serve her community, especially in the areas of mental health and psychiatric nursing. After receiving her white coat, she said she was proud and humble. “The ceremony was a confirmation and validation of the hard work that I have devoted to my studies and nursing obligations,” she said. “Attending this ceremony also demonstrated the communal nature of the profession, being there with my classmates.”
She said those classmates are like family now.
“It reminded me that even when I graduate and become a nurse, I will never be alone as there is a community in the healthcare team to collaborate with,” she said. “The end of my educational chapter is near, but my future nursing chapter is yet to be written. I am so excited to see what the future holds.”