By Amanda Sotelo, TSTC Staff
With commencement around the corner, the Texas State Technical College Vocational Nursing class of 2019 celebrated its successful completion of the program with a pinning ceremony, a tradition set back in the 19th century to pass the light of knowledge.
“This is always such a special moment,” TSTC Associate Provost Jean Lashbrook told the students. “I’m so proud of all of you and I know you all are going to soar and bring great care to your patients.”
The pinning ceremony is a rite of passage into nursing and stems from a tradition set forth by Florence Nightingale, a trailblazing figure in the profession and the founder of modern-day nursing, during which nurses were being trained to care for wounded soldiers.
After a welcome and introduction by Lashbrook and a prayer by vocational nursing student Miriam Miranda, the 21 soon-to-be-graduates heard from TSTC nursing advisory board committee member and retired TSTC Vocational Nursing program Director Adriana Hinojosa-Vassberg who returned to share words of wisdom.
“It’s important that you understand that this is a calling. A calling of service,” said Vassberg. “There are great things ahead and this is the time to plant the right seed. Do the right thing, smile and love one another always and everything will fall into place.”
The ceremony included a capping ceremony, presentation of pins, candle-lighting ceremony that symbolizes the passing of knowledge, reciting of the Nightingale Pledge, and a blessing of the hands and benediction led by Pastor Danny Anderson of the Bridge-Rio Hondo Baptist Church.
Awards were also presented to those with perfect attendance, those who served in the TSTC Vocational Nursing Club and to the 2019 class valedictorian Yesenia Garza and salutatorian Leanna Flores.
“Nursing chose me, I wanted to be a lawyer, but I became a teen mom,” said Garza, who holds the highest GPA in her graduating vocational nursing class. “With the burning need to return to school, but with baby number five on the way, I had every reason to put college on the back burner. But I trusted God and I received my acceptance letter for Fall 2018. This was my sign.”
The 38-year-old, who served as a medical assistant for Su Clinica, which is where her passion for the medical field stemmed, is the sole provider for her family, so she said she knew this would be overwhelming for everyone she loves.
“I was exhausted in every way throughout the program and I was ready to quit several times,” she said. “But these instructors were tough. They never let us quit. They pushed us, tested us and had us shaking in our nursing shoes, but we made it; I made it. What kept me going was knowing that there were people that wanted me to succeed and counting on me.”
TSTC Vocational Nursing Program Director Heather Sauceda said she is proud of all of her students.
“The hard work isn’t over yet. They still need to pass their national board exams,” she said. “But I trust that they will all do well. We know they are ready. And just as were hard on them during the program, they also received praise and encouragement because they are all amazing individuals who have worked hard and we’re so proud of their achievements.”
These 21 students will earn certificates in Vocational Nursing on August 16 during TSTC’s Commencement Ceremonies at the Harlingen Convention Center at 4 and 7 p.m.
The Vocational Nursing pinning ceremony is held twice a year during the Summer and Fall Semesters.
For more information on the program, visit tstc.edu/Nursing.
The deadline to register for Fall 2019 is August 23. The first day of class is August 26.