Nursing School Recognizes 71 Graduates With Pinning Ceremony

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    (L to R) Dr. Judy Wright Lott, dean of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing; Carey Ann Smith, assistant dean for student services; and Dr. Jody Guenther, director of learning resources and associate professor. Smith and Guenther both retired this year.
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    Baylor graduates presented the nursing school with a framed photo of Carey Ann Smith, assistant dean for student services, who retired after 38 years on the faculty.
May 27, 2003

by Judy Long

Baylor University's Louise Herrington School of Nursing recognized 71 graduating students May 16, during the time-honored pinning ceremony held at East Dallas Christian Church, located three blocks from the school.

The baccalaureate-style pinning service is a tradition at nursing schools, symbolizing the students' transformation from a student role to the professional role.

"I call it a celebration because our families are here, and none of us get to this place without their prayers and support," said Carey Ann Smith, assistant dean for student services, who presided over the ceremony.

School of Nursing Dean Judy Wright Lott presented the graduates with official Baylor pins, which were fastened to the graduate's lapel by a family member, signifying membership in the fraternity of professionals from the Louise Herrington School of Nursing.

Working so closely with peers and faculty, students develop a strong bond, which the pinning ceremony recognizes and affirms. Many nurses have said the pinning service was even more meaningful to them than their graduation ceremony.

The keynote address was delivered by Charlotte Breithaupt, lecturer in nursing, who was selected for the honor by the graduating seniors. The ceremony also recognized the demands of the two-year program that constituted the students' upper-level coursework.

"By the time students graduate and become registered nurses, they have already worked in a variety of authentic health care settings, experiencing life and death, as well as day-to-day care of patients," Smith said. "For two years, they divide their time between academic and clinical studies."

Smith likened a nurse's clinical work to a chemist's lab. "They work in hospitals, clinics and agencies with patients under the supervision of a faculty member. This atmosphere exposes them to nearly everything they will encounter as a professional nurse," she said.

At the end of the service, the graduating seniors gave two gifts to the school. Kelly Keith, the nursing school's outstanding graduate, and Claudia Aguilar, senior class president, presented Lott with a cross wall, an artistic arrangement of traditional crosses on a white canvas, and a framed portrait of Smith, who is retiring.

This was the final official pinning ceremony for Smith, who is considered a nursing school icon after 38 years on the faculty. Known for her caring and service by generations of graduates, Smith has left a permanent imprint on the school, said Dr. Alice Pappas, associate dean of nursing.

"Carey Ann's outstanding public relations skills have acted as a magnet for potential students to come to the School of Nursing, and her counseling skills have been magnificent at keeping students with us," Pappas said.

Smith said she received satisfaction from working in an environment where teachers could model a style of nursing that included both spiritual and physical healing for patients.

She said Baylor's commitment to living out one's calling through their vocation is an essential aspect of the school. Many Baylor student nurses share this view, she said.

"I ask students why they chose nursing, and most of them say they feel called," she said.

"Many of them chose Baylor because of what it stands for. We nurture the faith experience for those who are interested. We believe the essence of nursing is caring about others, and we include all needs of patients throughout the program," Smith added. "That's what has kept me at Baylor for 38 years."

Dr. Jody Guenther, nursing school director of learning resources and associate professor, also is retiring this spring after 22 years at the school. Pappas said Guenther is responsible for the development of the best nursing library in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

"It is a superb resource that draws in not only our own undergraduate and graduate students, but similar students from other nursing schools across the metroplex and nurses in practice. In addition, Jody also has acted as a faculty member for us, teaching a leading-edge course in informatics to our graduate students," Pappas said.

Nursing school graduates joined the rest of the graduating Baylor students for commencement May 17 in the Ferrell Center on the main Baylor campus, during which bachelor's of nursing science degrees were awarded to 54 students. Master's of nursing science degrees were conferred on 17 graduates.

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