COURT HOUSE - Twenty-three nursing students traded in countless hours of studying, exams and clinicals for diplomas and pins at Cape May County Technical High School’s 56th Practical Nursing Pinning Ceremony Aug. 12.  

This year’s class was the only program asked to run Shore Medical Center’s employee flu drive and tuberculosis clinic. The program was also exclusively asked by the county’s Department of Health to participate in three community flu drives.  

“There is a unique camaraderie that develops from conquering this experience together,” said Shannon Ray, guest speaker and school nurse in the Lower Cape May Regional School District.  

Class speaker Sabina Belizaire mentioned the special bond created within the 24 students. 

“Together we have shared the agonizing pain of waking up at 5 a.m., and sometimes earlier, to arrive at our clinical sites on time,” Belizaire said. “We have shared personal losses, small victories when we passed an exam and created lasting friendships with individuals who were once total strangers. We united during clinicals and helped one another get through the day.” 

Collectively, the students assisted over 3,000 patients, gave over 1,200 injections, administered more than 1,400 medications, attended 120 operating room procedures, helped deliver 36 babies and more, according to program instructor Ann Zilinek.  

“Most importantly, they’ve given thousands of smiles, hugs, and words of encouragement to patients and fellow classmates, and touched countless lives,” Zilinek said. 

Practical Nursing Coordinator Kelly Eldeman mentioned how the graduates would be more than just a nurse to patients. 

“You have a chance to make a difference in someone else’s life every day, and not many professions can have this type of impact,” she said. “You can help a child breathe, help resolve someone’s chest pain, save someone’s life on a regular workday.” 

During the ceremony, instructors fastened pins to each graduate. The pinning ceremony signifies official membership in the medical field and symbolizes the dedication nurses have for patients.  

Afterward, graduates lit candles placed in lamps to honor the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. During the 19th century Crimean War, Nightingale would search grounds by lamp and aid wounded soldiers when others had given up hope. 

The nurses recited the Nightingale Pledge, which highlights the ethics and morals of a nursing career. 

“We hope you realize you were not just studying to pass all of the tests and quizzes and homework and papers and objectives,” Edelman said while closing the ceremony. “You were studying to prepare for the day when you are the only thing between a patient and the grave.” 

The graduates of the Class of 2019 were:

* Jeniffer Battersby with high honors

* Holly Bauer with honors

* Sabina Belizaire with high honors

* Crystal Christiansen with honors

* Rivers Culicerto with high honors

* Lindsay Hawn with honors

* Amber Heide

* Ghania Kaced with high honors

* Abraham Kamara

* Ashley Leaming with honors

* Emma Lord with honors

* Kristi McCorriston with honors

* Courtney McMahon with honors

* Angell Moffitt

* Alexis Murphy

* Sonia Ochok with honors

* Jacqueline Porter

* Justina Reichle with honors

* Tori Reichle

* Gabrielle Santora with honors

* Katelyn Shipley with honors

* Yashira Webb with honors

* Micayla Wilson with honors

To contact Christina Urban, email curban@cmcherald.com.