2020 Winter Commencement Pinning Ceremony Celebrates CSM’s 41 Nursing Graduates

Forty-one College of Southern Maryland students prepare to receive their nursing pins hours before participating in the college's 21st Winter Commencement.

During the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) nursing recognition ceremony Jan. 16, as part of the college’s 21st Winter Commencement, 41 associate degree nursing candidates received their nursing pin.

The nursing pin is a treasured symbol CSM Nursing Professor Jeanne Hill told the graduates and their families during the ceremony. She explained how the modern pinning ceremony dates to the 1860s, when Florence Nightingale was awarded the Red Cross of St. George in recognition for her tireless service to the injured during the Crimean War. According to Healthcare Marketplace, “to share the honor, [Nightingale] in turn presented a medal of excellence to her brightest graduates and by 1916, the practice of pinning new graduates was standard throughout the U.S.”

“It was decades ago when the first pin was designed by the first RN class to ever graduate from the college in 1979,” continued Hill, who added that the current pin was custom designed by her and her classmates when she graduated from CSM in 2001.

“One of my most memorable experiences is receiving my nursing pin right here at CSM,” said Hill. “I hope you feel the same way, today. Always carry the pride of your peers and CSM with you; especially on those hard days as a nurse.”

CSM Alum and Registered Nurse Teresa Waldron congratulated the nursing students on their pinning.

CSM alum and registered nurse Teresa Waldron was invited by the class to be its guest speaker. “To think eight years ago, I was sitting where you are sitting today!” she said. “I know it took hard work, long nights and intense studies to get here. I get it. And you made it!”

Waldron shared the parable of the young man walking on the beach saving starfish stranded on the sand.

“One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.

Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.

The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”

“That beach represents the journey ahead of you,” Waldron explained. “The boy is you. The starfish are your patients, their families, your peers. You will make a difference.”

And she told the students that the difference they make could be something as small as a smile. “Be contagious with your energy, not your negativity.”

Student Speaker Anna Waller, of Dunkirk, offered reflections to her graduating class. While giving a glimpse into each semester’s demands – she drew laughter when she acknowledged the repeated requirement each semester was for the students to wash their hands.

“Spending full class periods on perfecting bed making and hand washing,” she laughed about the cohort’s first semester. “We didn’t realize that we were not only building our nursing foundation but building a support system of people that would carry us through this program.

“Second semester,” she continued. “This is it! The first semester in the hospital setting. Get those stethoscopes out, we’re ready to save a life, but first – check offs – there is a very specific order in which a nurse must enter the room for any skill. Ask name; date of birth; wash your hands – or was it pulling a curtain for privacy and then hand washing? Make sure to explain each and every step in “patient terms,” but when in doubt, wash your hands.”

The second semester was significant, explained Waller, in that the students shifted from classmates to teammates.

“We have made it through some really tough obstacles over the past two years, and by that, I mean trends. It was touch- and-go there for most of us most of the semester, but the perseverance each and every one of you showed is truly commendable.”

Waller said two years ago she received an acceptance letter from CSM that changed her life.

“I walked into orientation to a room full of strangers,” she shared. “From students straight out of high school, to recommitted students pursing their dream of a second career. Today, I proudly graduate alongside of some of my closest friends, and would be honored to work alongside of each and every one of you.”

CSM Health Sciences Division Chair Dr. Laura Polk closed the program with words encouraging the students to move mountains using patience, persistence, empathy, ethics and clinical judgment.

“You also have an amazing mountain guide to help you along your path,” Polk said, adding that the World Health Organization has declared 2020 “The Year of the Nurse” as it marks the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

“So as you set off on this next adventure, I ask you to consider,” she continued, “how will you manage these mountains you’re facing and where will you begin your climb? Start by being vigilant with your assessment, willing to disagree with a colleague when you notice a subtle difference in your patient that signals a change for the worse, even when no one else sees it … Be an advocate and voice for your patients when they are too scared to speak for themselves.”

Polk reminded the students that over time they will be challenged by everything from small hills to steeps crags.

“Over time, though, you will notice that you are personally transformed as much from being a nurse, as your patients are from you being their nurse. Climbing mountains is exhilarating and life-changing, yet very humbling. But as the famous naturalist John Muir said, ‘The mountains are calling, and I must go.’”

Special Nursing Recognition

Adrien Seaton, 60, of Waldorf, left her career in finance 20 years ago to raise her children and didn’t think beyond her tasks at-hand about returning to the labor force until her father died about six years ago.

“When I saw my father going through his medical processes,” Seaton shared, “I was inspired by the nurses who treated him. They made a tremendous difference in his life and in our lives, and I decided I too wanted to be a nurse and give back.”

So four years ago, Seaton enrolled in the CSM nursing program with the goal of adding an associate of nursing degree to her bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado.

She graduated with high honors Thursday and earned CSM Health Sciences Division “Academic Achievement in Nursing” for maintaining the highest GPA in her nursing class.

“I was actually really excited to hear this news,” she said. “I worked really hard.”

She credits the caliber of CSM’s other nursing students for keeping her motivated.

“Nursing students are wonderful people,” she said. “They are very accepting and truly care about people; and thanks to professors like Turner Coggins and Margaret Bolton my classes were interesting and challenging.”

Alexandra Esser, 22, of Huntingtown, joined Seaton in receiving accolades when she was awarded the CSM Health Sciences Division Achievement in Nursing Award.

Esser graduated from Huntingtown High School in 2015 after participating in the Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) Career and Technology Education Program for nursing. CCPS and CSM have several articulation agreements in place to jump start higher education for students interested in pursuing either an associate degree (A.S.) or an associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degree. Esser also worked at CalvertHealth in the cardiac unit where she said she met a lot of people who graduated from CSM and talked highly of the program – so attending CSM was always her plan.

“I was thrilled to hear I had earned the nursing award,” Esser shared. The annual Achievement in Nursing Award is given for demonstrating academic achievement, clinical competence, community service and leadership potential.

Esser, together with classmates Leianna Haines and Anna Waller, created the “Scrub Network Program” at CSM last year to provide nursing students peer counseling.

“Basically, we assigned senior nursing students to all incoming nursing students for peer support and we also get together for bonding and fellowship each month,” she explained. “We have a lot – and really great – advisors, but we wanted to set up a peer group to help each other navigate this program at a different level.”

Esser, who is currently working at Calvert Hospice, plans to attend the University of Maryland to advance her nursing skills and plans a career in pediatric oncology.

Congratulations Graduates

The following are the names of the CSM students who graduated with associate degrees in nursing Jan. 16, 2020.

Nursing graduates from Calvert County are Daniel Christopher Bailey, Alexandra Joan Esser, Leianna Michelle Haines, KaLynn M. Johnson, Jacquelyn Alice Laiosa, Victoria Ilene Persetic
Darlene A. Poust, Natalie Rose Schaeffler, Samantha Jo Simms, Josephine Trahan, Kara Jo Tutt and Anna Constance Waller.

Calvert County

Daniel Christopher Bailey

Alexandra Joan Esser

Leianna Michelle Haines

KaLynn M. Johnson

Jacquelyn Alice Laiosa

Victoria Ilene Persetic

Darlene A. Poust

Natalie Rose Schaeffler

Samantha Jo Simms

Josephine Trahan

Kara Jo Tutt

Anna Constance Waller

Nursing graduates from Charles County are Joshua R. Cooperstock, Yesenia Noemy Escobar, Virginia R. Femia, Pewee K. Gayflor, Ashley Hall, Brittany A. Halmon, Ashtin L. Holsworth, Helen Jameson, Melodie Robles, Angela Flaminiano Santos, Adrien Godreau Seaton, Takelia E. Simmons and Sinifa D. Williams.

Charles County

Joshua R. Cooperstock

Yesenia Noemy Escobar

Virginia R. Femia

Pewee K. Gayflor

Ashley Hall

Brittany A. Halmon

Ashtin L. Holsworth

Helen Jameson

Melodie Robles

Angela Flaminiano Santos

Adrien Godreau Seaton

Takelia E. Simmons

Sinifa D. Williams

Nursing graduates from St. Mary’s County are Leilani Bogan, Marcie A. Brock, Christian J. Castillo, Emily V. Chatman, Coralea Dunston, Amber L. Fiorilla, Allison Frederick, Tiffany Lin Fuller, Jamyra S. Grymes, Makayla N. Hughes, Jordan Janschek, Jessica Marie Kasprzak, Emma Jane Lynch, Michelle A. Midgett, Jamie L. Milligan and Carla Elizabeth Rosa.

St. Mary’s County

Leilani Bogan

Marcie A. Brock

Christian J. Castillo

Emily V. Chatman

Coralea Dunston

Amber L. Fiorilla

Allison Frederick

Tiffany Lin Fuller

Jamyra S. Grymes

Makayla N. Hughes

Jordan Janschek

Jessica Marie Kasprzak

Emma Jane Lynch

Michelle A. Midgett

Jamie L. Milligan

Carla Elizabeth Rosa

To view photographs of CSM’s Nurse Pinning and Recognition Ceremony, visit https://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/20jannurrec.