Pinning Ceremony, a central part of Fairfield University School of Nursing undergraduate commencement celebration, sees new nurses off into the world


"Shoot for the moon, Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." - Les Brown (featured in the School of Nursing pinning celebration program)

Image: SON Pinning CeremonyOn May 21, a pinning ceremony, part of the graduation tradition of Fairfield University School of Nursing, was held in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola for one of the school's largest undergraduate classes ever.

As several hundred family members and friends looked on, 67 graduates of the bachelor of science in nursing degree program and the RN to B.S. program were presented a nursing pin, designed in 1974 by the school's first graduating class. The pin is a gold circle overlaid by a triangle, inscribed with the words 'Knowledge, Communication and Understanding.' After being blessed by Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., the pins were presented to each graduate. Among those at the ceremony were an adult part-time student; 13 RN-BSN students; and 53 traditional full-time students.

Catherine Fitzpatrick, of Ridgefield, Conn., said the pin is a sign of the culmination of the hard work involved in earning a B.S. in nursing from Fairfield. "It is a great keepsake that holds a lot of significance," said Fitzpatrick. "Although we are happy to be graduating, it will be bittersweet because so many of us have grown so close."

Krislin Yosuico, of Tinton Falls, N.J., felt that her years at the School of Nursing had somehow flown by. "I've become so close not only with my fellow classmates but with the professors as well," said Yosuico, who plans to return home to start a position at Jersey Shore Medical Center. "Now it's just time to pass the [nursing license] boards. I know that Fairfield has prepared me."

Kylie McKeon, of North Haven, Conn., found it "surreal" that commencement time had arrived. "It is now time to put our hard work to good use and make a difference using the knowledge we have gained," said McKeon. "While I am sad that my experience here is ending, I am excited to begin the next chapter in my life and I wish everyone the best of luck as they do the same."

For McKeon, that next chapter includes working as a registered nurse on the Cardiac Step Down/ Angioplasty Unit at Saint Raphael's Hospital in New Haven, Conn.

Image: SON Pinning Ceremony

The pinning ceremony was extra poignant as it was the last one with Jeanne Novotny, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, as dean. She decided to step down from the position after overseeing impressive growth at the school. "It has been a great honor for me to be the dean here for the past ten years, and I know that the legacy and tradition of excellence will continue."

Associate Professor Joyce M. Shea, DNSc, APRN, the nursing undergraduate program director who is also a Fairfield alumnus, told graduates that they embody the Jesuit tradition of lifelong learning, and that with that comes a responsibility to continue their education. She also offered some reflections on the meaning of being a nurse, quoting from a recent publication by Sigma Theta Tau, the International Nursing Honor Society: "You'll know you're a nurse when you're the only one on rounds who knows the name of a child's imaginary friend and that the intern is about to sit on him." She then added, "You'll also know you're a nurse when you hold a dying baby and sing a lullaby, you thank a wounded warrior for a job well done, you rejoice with a family over a life well lived, and know that you have made a difference."

The 2011 School of Nursing Pin Award for Outstanding Contribution to the School went to Michael Cicirelli, who just completed a clinical in the transplant unit at Yale New Haven Hospital, a first-time placement for a Fairfield student. Assistant Dean Theresa T. Quell '79, Ph.D., RN, president of the Connecticut Nurses Association, said Cicirelli stands as a model of advocacy for nurses through his involvement with "Project Halo," a movement engaging communities to stop abuse against gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals. He'll soon begin Fairfield's Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

The Outstanding Scholastic Achievement in the Undergraduate Nursing Program award was given to Katelin Grace Heltz, of Williston, Vermont. She just completed a clinical rotation in the operating room at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, a rare and intense placement. She is headed to Yale University to purse a graduate degree.

Image: P DykesOther undergraduate award winners were:

Elizabeth K. Dolan Memorial Award for Excellence in Nursing: Lauren Davidow
Award for Excellence in Geriatric Nursing: Christine Steverman
Phyllis E. Porter Achievement Award for Special Recognition: Sara Mitchel
U.S. Army Nurse Corps Spirit of Nursing Award: Mary Catherine Taylor

Registered nurses who received pins pursued their Fairfield degrees while working in positions in Oncology at the West Haven VA, Patient Care Management at Norwalk Hospital, Medical Surgical Nursing at Stamford Hospital, and Critical Care at St. Vincent's Medical Center.

Graduates are headed to such institutions as the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, the most technologically advanced Navy medical treatment facility in the country; Maine Medical Center, the largest hospital in the state; and Yale-New Haven Hospital, an Ivy League teaching hospital.

Images: top) As family members and friends looked on, 67 graduates of the bachelor of science in nursing degree program and the RN to B.S. program were presented a nursing pin. Pictured with Katelin Grace Heltz are Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Mary Frances Malone, Associate Academic Vice President. middle) A pinning ceremony, part of the graduation tradition of Fairfield University School of Nursing, was held in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola on May 21. bottom) Patricia C. Dykes, DNSc, RN, FAAN, manager of Nursing Informatics and Research, Partners HealthCare Professor at Harvard Medical School, spoke at the ceremony.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726,

Posted on May 26, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 316

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