Newman University celebrates 2020 spring nursing graduates

Jun 23, 2020
nursing pinning

The spring 2020 nursing pinning ceremony at Newman University looked much different due to a national pandemic that resulted in gathering restrictions for cities across the United States.

In the midst of such unprecedented times, the Newman faculty were pleased to be able to find a way to present pins to the spring graduates in a safe manner.

In order to keep everyone safe and to practice spacial distancing, the program staff and faculty arranged an outdoor pinning ceremony, during which graduates could drive up to a designated spot one at a time, exit their vehicle and receive their pin.

The tradition of the nursing pinning ceremony dates back more than 130 years. Newman celebrates with its own ceremony at the end of each semester, recognizing the completion of the Newman Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program by students who have worked hard to accomplish their goal of becoming a nurse.

The design of the Newman University pin represents the Newman BSN program. The design was created by the first BSN class of 1984 of what was then known as Kansas Newman College.

Newman Nursing Pin
The Newman University nursing pin was created by the BSN class of 1984.

The cross on the pin represents Newman’s Christian heritage and the lamp serves two purposes; symbolizing the lamp of knowledge and honoring Florence Nightingale, who was known as “The Lady with the Lamp,” and her reformation of nursing in health care in the mid-1800s.

Teresa Vetter, director of nursing, said this semester’s pinning was certainly one for the books.

“Who knew the changes we would experience when we first started hearing about a novel coronavirus beginning to spread around the world,” said Vetter. “In the last six months, (students) entered the last semester of nursing school, left for (their) last spring break, and then did not return to traditional classrooms. (We) transitioned many clinical experiences to virtual and some worried about where (they) would be able to complete capstone clinicals.”

National Council Licensure Examination testing changed and even nursing jobs themselves changed, yet, Vetter said, the Newman spring nursing class continued to persist through it all.

She added that these graduates “entered the nursing profession during what the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated ‘the year of the nurse and midwife.’”

The designation by the WHO is in honor of the 200th anniversary of Nightingale and the impact and contributions she made to health care. Vetter said these graduates, like Nightingale, “have the opportunity to work to transform society and health care.”

In addition to recognizing the BSN program graduates, faculty traditionally recognize one outstanding student with the Distinguished BSN Graduate Award.

Keelah Warden
Newman University Distinguished BSN Graduate Award recipient Keelah Warden.

The award is given to a graduating nursing student who has a minimum 3.5 cumulative grade point average and demonstrates an exceptional commitment to the nursing profession and involvement in the Newman and greater Wichita communities.

The spring 2020 honoree was Keelah Warden from Wichita, Kansas.

Keelah is a St. John Henry Newman Scholar and has been active at both Newman University and within the Wichita community. Her experiences at Newman range from theater acting to being a Traditions & Transitions facilitator, peer tutor and student mentor. She completed many service hours during her time at Newman including recycling on campus, which she plans to continue for her future workplace.

Keelah plans to work with the elderly and will pursue her doctorate to become a nurse practitioner. She stated in her initial program application interview in 2018 that her goal was to go into the world and make a difference.

Vetter encouraged all her graduates to work to improve health care and the profession, to continue lifelong learning and to focus on quality and safety during their newly earned careers.

The 2020 spring BSN graduates are listed below alphabetically by last name.

  • Mariela Aldaba — Dodge City, Kansas
  • Thor Anthony Balavage — Avoca, Pennsylvania
  • Tessa Moriah Dahl — Derby, Kansas
  • Caitlin Marie Davis — Keller, Texas
  • Tyson D. Detwiler — Winfield, Kansas
  • Chloe Danielle Garner — Wichita, Kansas
  • Alexia Karissa Gonzalez — Wichita, Kansas
  • Tina Le — Wichita, Kansas
  • Darlene Ngoc Nguyen (cum laude) — Wichita, Kansas
  • Lucila Yazmin Reed — Philadelphia
  • Ashton Marie Reynolds — Mount Hope, Kansas
  • Whitney Elizabeth Riedel (magna cum laude) — Wichita, Kansas
  • Salma Rios — Wichita, Kansas
  • Jose M. Rojas Montero — Wichita, Kansas
  • Sellaro Giacoma Lucia Jenny (summa cum laude) — Belleville, Illinois
  • Brianna Marie Smith (cum laude) — Wichita, Kansas
  • Mackenzie Diane Smith — Wichita, Kansas
  • Shelby Steincamp — Wichita, Kansas
  • Brittany Katheryne Steveson — Haysville, Kansas
  • Ashley N. Veatch — Andover, Kansas
  • Keelah Jade Warden (summa cum laude) — Wichita, Kansas
  • Hailie Lauren Wilcox — Wichita, Kansas
  • Julie Ann Winter — Viola, Kansas