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Commencement and pinning ceremony held for nursing students

Commencement and pinning ceremony held for nursing students

NORFOLK, Neb. - Associate degree nursing and practical nursing students were recognized during a special ceremony at Northeast Community College in Norfolk recently with the presentation of their nursing pins and their diplomas.

In a normal year, the ceremonies are held separately, but in 2021 the tradition of nursing students receiving their pins from family members or a close friend who have helped them along their journey returned.

“We are honored to be here with you today as we recognize and celebrate the achievements and milestones of our nursing graduates,” said Dr. Karen Weidner, director of the nursing program. “Today, we celebrate the educational success and journey that 36 associate degree nursing graduates and 41 practical nurse graduates have completed. The past year has been unprecedented with the challenges related to COVID and you have persevered. There have been many tests, lab and clinical experiences, virtual classes, and study sessions in your pursuit of this academic achievement, and we are so very proud of you all.”

Weidner said the past year served witness to the extraordinary impact and dedication of nurses on the frontlines of healthcare. She told the graduates they are an essential component of America’s healthcare system.

“The knowledge and skills that you have gained have prepared you to care for those individuals and communities in a way that no one else can. Put into practice what you have learned, conquer the challenges along the way, and answer your call of saving lives.”

The nurse pinning observance is the culmination of the students’ initial journey of professional nursing education. It is a bridge from nursing’s past to nursing’s future and is a time-honored nursing school tradition. It also signifies the official initiation into the brotherhood and sisterhood of nurses.

Each nursing school, at every level of education, has its own unique pin which is worn on the nursing uniform. The nursing school pin that graduates of the Northeast Community College’s associate degree nursing (ADN) and practical nursing program receive is symbolic of nursing’s heritage and tradition.

In the student address, Timothy Lillard, Norfolk, president of the Student Nurses’ Association, congratulated his classmates for not only making it through nursing school, but for surviving nursing school and a pandemic at the same time.

“I’m not sure if we picked the best time to go to nursing school, or the worst time to go to nursing school, but in many ways, we’ll be dealing with the effects of COVID-19 well into the future; whether directly, in working with patients who have the virus, or indirectly, with patients suffering its long-term effects,” Lillard said. “While still not fully back to normal, I want to thank all those involved with orchestrating the events of the day. You recognized the importance of this sacred moment and fought hard to make it happen; harder than we will ever know or understand. And for that, we are eternally grateful.”

The history of the pinning ceremony goes back to the Crusades of the 12th century. The modern ceremony dates back to the mid-19th century when Florence Nightingale was awarded the Red Cross of St. George for her tireless service to the injured during the Crimean War. To share the honor, she in turn presented a medal of excellence to her brightest graduates.

Leah Barrett, Northeast president, presented each of the graduates with their diplomas during the ceremony.

In addition to the pinning ceremony, one associate degree nursing and two practical nursing students were presented the Essence of Nursing Award for their consistent academic effort, caring actions, positive motivation toward classroom learning and clinical experience, and professional behaviors. 

Rebecca Armstrong, Norfolk, ADN graduate, and Sydney Brunssen, Randolph, practical nursing student, were honored with the award.

Four graduates were named Nebraska AHEC (Area Health Education Center) Scholars – Jared Bessmer, Osmond, Erin Beutler, Bancroft, Creighton Blain, Norfolk, Hannah Haase, Brunswick, Grace Jansen, Hartington, and Kylee Jipp, Plainview. The Nebraska AHEC Scholars Program is part of a national initiative that prepares health profession students who want to serve in rural or urban underserved areas of Nebraska to become leaders in the changing health care system.

Upon completion of the first two semesters of nursing studies at Northeast Community College, students are eligible to take the National Council of Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to become licensed practical nurses. Students who hold a 3.0 grade point average in their nursing courses are eligible to complete the last two semesters of the Northeast program and take the National Council of Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN) to practice as licensed registered nurses.

Students who graduate with an associate degree in nursing are eligible to continue their studies for a bachelor of science degree in nursing. The general education courses for a bachelor of science in nursing can be taken at Northeast Community College. The majority of the practical nursing students have chosen to continue in the associate degree nursing program at Northeast. 

Students who received the Associate Degree Nursing pin and diploma include:                                                                                                                                             


Albion – Tayla Rasmussen.
Atkinson –
Miranda Bendig.
Bancroft –
Alissa Thomsen.
Battle Creek –
Bailey Mickelson.
Bloomfield – Mikaela Bloomquist.
Columbus – Darcy Patrick, Elisabeth Schalk, Karissa Sims.  
Elgin – Tera Henkenius.
Gering – Victoria Mueller.
Grand Island – Ali Nowicki.
Hoskins – Leah Anderson.
Lynch – Hannah Wright.
Madison – Marisol Sanchez.
Monroe – Mattie Dohmen.
Neligh – Kinsley Klabenes.
Norfolk – Rebecca Armstrong, Jacqueline Arreola, Candace Clark, Allison Erwin, Brenda Halverson, Tessa Henning, Riley Johnson, Tylee Kemp, Timothy Lillard, Jennifer Madison, Karlie Shoemaker.
North Loup – Mikayla Strickland.     
O’Neill – Tarra Janzing, Jesse Turpin.  
Osmond – Erin Kumm.
Plainview – Jordyn Anderson.
Wayne – Tabitha Belt.
Wolbach – Megan Beck.

Out of State

Colo., Greeley – Melissa Nelson.
Colo., Yuma
– Sara Brandner.

Students who received the Practical Nursing pin and diploma include:


Albion – Hannah Seier.
Bancroft – Erin Beutler.
Bassett – Brodee Fleming.
Beemer – Chanda English.
Blair – Ashley Clark.
Bloomfield – Jonathan Sahagun.
Brunswick – Hannah Haase.
Cody-Kilgore – Kenzie Barnes.
Columbus – Rylee Karella.
Creighton – Alisa Wylie.
Emerson – Nicole Schram.
Hartington – Grace Jansen.
Hoskins – Emily Jensen.
Jackson – Kathryn Etherington.
Mullen – Erica Peters.
Neligh – Kenzi Tschirren.
Norfolk – Andrea Arreguin, Creighton Blain, Joshua Bleich, Charley Eicher, Katie Ferguson, Alaina Villalpando.
Omaha – Sarah Seymour.  
Osmond – Jared Bessmer.
Osceola – Kylie Merry.
Pender – Jenna Kubik, Kaitlyn Schumacher.  
Pierce – Sidney Zimmerer.
Plainview – Rebekah Beltz, Devin Ehrenberg, Kylee Jipp.
Randolph – Sydney Brunssen.
Seward – Shaylee Kamphaus.
Springview – Miah Wiebelhaus.
Stanton – Makenna Espinoza.
Stromsburg – Emily Noyd.
Verdigre – Mariah Vacha.
Wayne – Donna Aimee Oswald.

Out of State

Ark., Conway – Laura Maddox.


Malawi, Chiradzulu – Taurayizwenyu Sawerengera.
Nigeria, Anambra – Mary Ezeh.

The ceremony was broadcast live by members of the Northeast Community College Media Arts – Broadcasting, and Media Arts – Audio Recording Technology programs. The production team included instructors Brian Anderson (broadcasting), Anthony Beardslee and Timothy Miller (audio recording technology), students Ben Walker, Gibbon, and Mauricio Parra, Norfolk, and Tim Fenton, learning space technologist at Northeast.

The ceremony may be viewed online at




                                                                                  PHOTO CUTLINE 


Northeast Community College nursing graduate Nicole Schram, Emerson, receives her practical nursing pin from her son, Mx, during a pinning and commencement ceremony at the College in Norfolk recently. It is tradition that nursing students receive their pins from family members or a close friend who have helped them along their journey returned. This year, 36 associate degree nursing and 41 practical nursing students received their nursing pins in combination with their diplomas during the ceremony.