Congratulations to the UF College of Nursing Spring Class 2024

Nursing student prepare for pinning

More than one thousand family members and friends packed the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on May 3 for the traditional UF College of Nursing Pinning and Recognition Ceremony. 

The pin ceremony welcomes the recipient to the nursing profession and signifies the wearer has completed the rigorous education necessary to excel in the field. 

Held on the same day as the undergraduate university-wide commencement ceremony at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the pinning ceremony was an intimate event where the 130 students who attended could interact with their classmates, faculty members and family. 

UF President Ben Sasse attended the ceremony as a special guest and addressed the graduates.

“Gator Nurses, when we say UF is elite yet radically practical, we’re talking about you. You’ll leave this place with a highly respected degree — that’s the elite part — and answer the call for your knowledge and expertise in caring for patients — that’s the radically practical part.  I hope you will continue to personify this ethos throughout your career — committing to lifelong learning and personal dynamism to stay at the top of your games,” Sasse said.

It was also the first pinning ceremony for Dean Shakira Henderson, who joined the college in January.

“I am humbled to be here to experience this moment with you all. We are happy to be able to personally recognize you today as professional nurses,” Henderson said, stressing they will always be part of the Gator Nursing family.

Since 1960, the college has graduated more than 11,000 nurses.

“You have the rights and privileges of a lifelong tie to your College of Nursing,” Henderson said. “We want to hear from you often and know that when we hear about you, it will be with pride in your accomplishments as University of Florida alumni.”

Reagan Harwood, the Class of 2024 representative and a Gator Nurse student ambassador, addressed her fellow students and gave a rundown of the dozens of exams and hundreds of clinical hours completed to graduate. But most important was their interaction with patients during clinical rotations. The students were with them during the worst and best times, at the beginning of life and sometimes the end.

“We learned how to care, lead and inspire… I sincerely cannot wait to see what each and every one of us will accomplish in our long, distinguished and rewarding careers. So here is to us. To future nurse practitioners, future nurse scientists and future patient advocates. Congratulations, class of 2024, and Go Gators!” she said.

After pinning, the class, in unison, recited the pledge for professional nursing. Based on the original Florence Nightingale nurses’ pledge, it promises to care for the sick with all their skills and maintain those skills to the highest level.

“This was a fabulous event. It is so moving to have the students all take their professional nursing pledge and prepare to embark on careers of caring and comfort,” Henderson said. “As the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale changed health care delivery worldwide. She emphasized evidence-based practice and patient-centered care. Today, nursing is a full partner in the professional health care team, and we believe that nurses are both the backbone — and the heart — of the American health care system.”  

The pledge touches all nurses who have taken it in one form or another.

 “One of my favorite parts of pinning is looking out at the audience and seeing all the nurses standing saying the pledge. It gave me goosebumps,” said Ashley-Marie Mendez, president of the UF College of Nursing Alumni Council, which hosted the ceremony.

A Pomp and Circumstance Ceremony followed the pinning event. The students donned their regalia, had their names individually called, walked across the stage and took their photo with Henderson. 

Several students received individual awards during the pinning ceremony, including Michael Joseph Tavormina, Excellence in Nursing Care; Emily Michelle Hart, Excellence in Nursing Leadership; Beth Anais Blair, Excellence in Inspiring Others Through Nursing; and Alessia Marie Rosa, Excellence in Research.