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Commencement and pinning ceremony held for nursing graduates

Commencement and pinning ceremony held for nursing graduates

NORFOLK, Neb. - Associate degree - nursing (ADN) and practical nursing students were recognized during a special ceremony at Northeast Community College in Norfolk recently with the presentation of their diplomas. In addition, the tradition of nursing students receiving their pins from family members or a close friend who have helped them along their journey was part of the ceremony.

“Nursing school requires much dedication, long hours of studying, tedious homework, and early morning and late evening clinicals culminating with the nursing board exam,” said Dr. Karen Weidner, director of nursing programs. “It is an honor to recognize our nursing graduates for all of their effort and achievements as they begin their journey in the profession of nursing.”

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.

The history of the pinning ceremony is traced back to the Crusades of the 12th century. The modern ceremony dates 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.

In the student address during the Northeast ceremony, Katlyn Krueger, Foster, treasurer of the Student Nurses Association, told her fellow graduates it is time for them to go out and care for others.  

“It is our job to love people. When it hurts. When it’s awkward. When it is uncomfortable and embarrassing, that is where we shine. It doesn't matter who you are or what has happened to you, we will take care of you,” Krueger said. … ”We will continue every single day to show up in someone else’s time of need and help them heal. And those unparalleled difficult days that we are sure to face will be made lighter each and every time we make a difference.”

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 ADN and practical nursing program receive is symbolic of nursing’s heritage and tradition.

Dr. Leah Barrett, Northeast president, presented each of the graduates with their diplomas during the ceremony. Family members and friends distributed nurse pins prior to the distribution of diplomas.

In addition to the pinning ceremony, three graduates 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. ADN graduates Ellie Burkenshaw, Atkinson, and Tom Wilson, Eugene, Ore., and Brittany Foster, Madison, practical nursing graduate, were honored with the award.

One graduate was named a Nebraska AHEC (Area Health Education Center) Scholar – Oscar Garcia, Fremont. 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 ADN 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. 
The graduates are among over 900 others who were recognized in two additional ceremonies to mark Northeast’s 50th Commencement. 

Associate Degree – Nursing

Forty graduates received their associate degree - nursing diplomas and pins. 


Albion – Melanie Rankin.
Atkinson – Ellie Burkinshaw.
Columbus – Jaina Lauridsen.
Crofton – Abbey Maibaum.
David City – Breanna Stouffer.
Fremont – Oscar Garcia, Brittney Perina.
Foster – Katlyn Krueger.
Genoa – Shyanne Koch.
Hartington – Liby Lange.
Lincoln – Payton Coon.
Long Pine – Emily Coble.
Lyons – Jenny Gustafson.
Madison – Bailey Belina.
Neligh – Megan Funk.
Norfolk – Brittany Bartusch, Melody Fischer, Crystal Maurer, Jordan Schaecher, Breanna Stouffer, Makenna Strand, Abigail Thornton, Abbigal Tweedy.
Oakland – Bradley Gillett.
Osceola – Heather Roberts.
Pierce – Jeni Flesner.
Plainview – Devin Ehrenberg, Alexa Meyer, Abigail Rafert.
Wakefield – Geena Rahn.
Wayne – Avianna Jones-Doring, Daryl Lambert.
West Point – Kelly Hansen, Allyson Plagge.
Winside – Rikki Cahill.
Wisner – Teresa Russman. 
Wynot – Emma Greninger.
York – Ashton Rauert.

Out of State

Ill., Chicago – Devine Smith.


Colombia, Bogotá – Laura Duque.
German, Ramstein – Ariella Cole. 

Practical Nursing Diploma

Thirty-seven graduates received their Practical Nursing diplomas and pins.


Bancroft – Brooklyn Nolting.
Bloomfield – Aubrey Jeannoutot.
Clarkson – Hannah Baumert, Bailey Lemburg.
Hartington – Brynn Wortmann. 
Hooper – Josie Kahlandt.
Howells – Audrey Coufal.
Kearney – Alexandria Brestel.
Leigh – Alissa Kasik, Emma Labenz. 
Madison – Brittany Foster.
Naper – Kaylee Hinton.
Norfolk – Hannah Gaspers, Angel Lackey, Lindsey McGuire, Erika McKenzie, Megan Olson, MacKenzie Peters, Reilly Schlomer, Jeremiah Ward.
O'Neill – Kelli Dannenbring.
Pierce – Kaylee Dvorak.
Plainview – Jordyn Albin, Hailee Horst.
Stanton – Jessi Allen, Lela Frerichs.
Tekamah – Abbi Fisichella. 
Tilden – Brianna Werner.
Tobias – Kezia Connealy.
Walthill – Evelyn McManigal.
West Point – Andrew Franzluebbers. 
York – Kaitlynn Pavel.

Out of State

CO., Elizabeth – Stefanie Baldo.
IA., Oakland – Nayely Martinez Verdecia.
OR., Eugene – Thomas Wilson. 
SD., Avon – Morgan Beeson.

The ceremony was broadcast live by members of the Northeast Community College Media Arts – Broadcasting, and Media Arts – Audio Recording Technology programs. 

The ceremony may be viewed online at


                                                                                          PHOTO CUTLINE   

Alexandria Brestel, Kearney, looks into the audience at the end of a Commencement and Pinning Ceremony at Northeast Community College recently. Brestel was one of 37 students to receive their practical nursing diplomas and pins. Forty other graduates received their associate degree - nursing diplomas and nurse pins during the ceremony.