UVI Kicks off Week of Celebration with the Pinning of Nurses

Nurses were pinned on St. Thomas at the Laverne E. Ragster Administration Conference Center. (Screenshot from Facebook live stream)

It’s a week of celebration for the University of the Virgin Islands as they kicked it off Monday and Tuesday evening with the Nurse Pinning Ceremony for the Albert A. Sheen Campus and the Orville E. Kean Campus.

The ceremony is a significant tradition that marks an important milestone in the journey of nursing students. The ceremony is usually held at the end of the semester or academic year and is a symbolic rite of passage for students who have completed their nursing program.

The ceremony on St. Thomas represented a few firsts and lasts. It represented the last pinning ceremony for Dean Mary Beverly A. Lansiquot who has been in her role for 10 years. It also represented the first for Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. who was in attendance as a guest.

President of the nursing class, Demore Wallace Cole, with his parents during the pinning segment. (Screenshot from Facebook live stream)

Lansiquot, who helped organize the school of nursing, is retiring. In her speech, she reflected on how the nurses learned firsthand experiences required to pursue their studies, all due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even after COVID it affected so many of our nurses emotionally and socially and impacted our health system. You persevered and that speaks quite a bit. You did all this while you were also managing your many life’s challenges. What a journey this has been,” she said.

Bryan, who did provide some words, congratulated the class and told the nurses that they had chosen a “noble path”.

“It is one of the most difficult jobs because you have to be your strongest when you meet people mostly at their weakest. The love and encouragement, the joy that you bring, the simple word of comfort to those patients and their loved ones means so much,” Bryan said.

Suzette Lettsome, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing for the past eight years, was the keynote speaker.

Lettsome said, “Nursing has a rich legacy and history in the Virgin Islands, Caribbean and around the world.”

Lettsome also quoted Horst Schulze, who said, “Don’t just go to work. Instead, go to your place of work to create excellence.” She added, “In addition, I would say execute your duties as future nurse leaders. I challenge you to where there the process, they’re none, create them. Where you don’t find a path, blaze a trail.  Make a mark in your communities that echoes around this world and giving up is not an option.”

During the ceremony, students were presented with a nursing pin, which is a symbol of their hard work, dedication, and commitment to the nursing profession. Each student received a traditional nursing pin that marks their transition from a student to a professional nurse.

Nouzie Aubin, pinned by her mother, said, “Nursing school was the hardest thing I have ever done, but God never let me down, and I survived,” quoting a bible verse.

“There were moments when I felt overwhelmed. The sleepless nights and the early mornings. Through all the challenges I persisted,” she said.

President of the nursing class, Demore Wallace Cole, who was pinned by his mother and father, said, “When I look back on the journey it took to make it to this point, it is true what they say: time moves fast. Those long days, late nights, early mornings have come together to create what you see before you.”

The pinning ceremony was then accompanied by an oath-taking – the Florence Nightingale Pledge and candle-lighting ritual, where students pledged to uphold the values and ethics of the nursing profession.