OCEAN CITY - Excitement was in the air at Ocean City Music Pier on Thursday night as 62 Atlantic Cape Community College nursing graduates participated in the traditional pinning ceremony.

Joanne Mazza was all smiles as she waited for the ceremony to begin. “We worked hard for two years, we deserve this,” said Mazzo as her friends nodded in agreement. Mazzo is transferring to Rutgers University to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

The ceremony began with a procession of the graduates, which was followed by opening remarks from the class president, Meghan Dawson. Dawson mentioned how the ceremony fell not only on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, but also International Nurses Day. “Great job on the planning,” Dawson said to ACCC faculty seated in the front rows as everyone chuckled.

Dawson also pointed out the table to the side of the stage, which held photos of the loved ones who had passed away.

“Don’t allow yourself to defeat yourself,” said Myrna Morales-Keklak, division chairperson of the Nursing & Allied Health programs at ACCC, during her speech. She told the graduates to take the time for self-care, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. “Grow your thoughts so that they strengthen you,” said Keklak in her closing remarks.

According to keynote speaker Steven Marks, DNP RN, the pinning ceremony goes back to the time of the Crusades, when the monks taking care of patients were given the Maltese Cross. “It was their cross to bear,” said Marks. The ceremony has developed into a major milestone in a nursing school graduate’s journey.

After a brief slide show made of photos and videos of the graduates time at ACCC, the pinning began, which was followed by candlelighting and the Florence Nightingale pledge.

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