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NW-SCC to hold drive-through pinning ceremony for nursing grads

Graduation plans have been an iffy proposition for some time now as high schools as well as colleges have tried to predict and plan around the coronavirus restrictions. With the phased reopening of the state in progress, institutions have taken different routes in response to continued uncertainty at state of flux. For Northwest-Shoals Community College nursing graduates, plans are now in place.

In accordance with Gov. Kay Ivey’s Safer at Home order, NW-SCC announced last week that it will host its first-ever drive-through nursing program pinning ceremony on the Shoals campus, Friday at 5 p.m.

The ceremony will feature the pinning of 102 NW-SCC associate degree of nursing and practical nursing graduates.

“I think it is just wonderful that we can provide that option for these students to celebrate their achievements and provide closure to this chapter of their lives,” said NW-SCC director of nursing education Brittney Humphres. “It is disappointing we cannot resume our lives as normal … but I think several students are appreciative we were able to think outside the box and provide them something, although it’s not our traditional pinning we hold very scared, steeped in tradition.”

The annual NW-SCC Nursing Program Pinning Ceremony is a symbolic tradition of the ceremonial pinning that originated in the 1860s at the Nightingale School of Nursing Hospital in London. The pin received by graduates is a type of badge, awarded by the program’s faculty as a symbolic welcome into the profession. Remarks by NW-SCC President Dr. Glenda Colagross, Humphres and representatives from the 2020 ADN and PN classes will be followed by the Nightingale Pledge. Then, for this year, the ceremony will conclude by the presentation of the pins in a car drive-through format.

“Student will come through in a – I hate to call it a parade, but a line – and they can have cars behind or in front of them of family and friends who want to celebrate along with them,” Humphres explained. “It will be a a very special ceremony to mark that occasion.”

When the first coronavirus restrictions led to the cancellation of on-campus classes in March, Humphres said it triggered many discussions among administrators, including the health students division chair and the associate dean of the division “to figure out the best way to celebrate and stay within the bounds of the safer-at-home order.”

Although officials considered having a delayed event in the more traditional format, Humphres said they realized that might preclude a number of students from participating, if they had already moved on to the workforce or continued education. When Ivey announced the relaxed safer-at-home restrictions to replace the stay-at-home order, Humphres said they decided they could be within those boundaries and still have some kind of on-time ceremony

Humphres said NW-SCC is also remaining agile and can adjust the Friday plan based on any new information from the governor’s office this week.

Humphres said although some students might be disappointed not to participate in a typical pinning – which, as it happens, they will still be invited to do by joining in with the next ceremony – many students are just thankful for the opportunity to make their achievement in some way.

Those students include Daniel Wooten, an ADN grad who is a 2015 alumnus of Red Bay.

“It’s just a blessing to still to get to do it at all,” said Wooten, who will continue to pursue his bachelor’s degree online as he begins work at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. “I think it’s going to make it a little more memorable for us.”

Wooten said when coronavirus restrictions first start disrupting classes, he immediately assumed the worst – that there would be no pinning at all. So to have a close-to-traditional observance, despite the pandemic, was an exciting prospect.

“Our instructors have been great,” said Wooten, who – like students across the nation – had to finish his schooling at NW-SCC online. He said professors went above and beyond during the pandemic to make sure he and his classmates all graduated on time. He said it’s a little hard to believe graduation has finally arrived. “It really hasn’t kicked in yet because we’ve been out of school now for a month … I’m excited to go to work.”

The drive-through ceremony will take place in the parking lot of Building 120, NW-SCC Shoals campus, 800 George Wallace Blvd., Muscle Shoals.