From Pupil to Professional: Nursing Graduates Light Candles to Mark the Transition

Queensborough Community College graduated 45 nursing students at the semi-annual Candlelighting Ceremony on January 9.

A procession of graduates in crisp white uniforms marched to the stage accompanied by a piano rendition of Pomp and Circumstance.

Dr. Diane B. Call, Interim President of Queensborough Community College, said, “Each of you exemplify academic excellence and the personal attributes essential for successfully navigating the future of healthcare that will be defined by ambiguities.”

“You have all forged a special bond in this difficult and high-stakes program,” said Anne Marie Menendez, chairperson of QCC’s Nursing Department. “I have observed many of you being tested outside of the classroom; treating a young mother with cancer, comforting a frightened child, and reassuring depressed, elderly patients.”

In addition to their clinical work, nursing students have engaged in service learning activities in Staten Island and the Rockaways – hit hard by Hurricane Sandy – to identify health support needs.

They have also helped incarcerated mothers learn to care for their newborn infants and have prepared nutritious brown bag lunches for school children in the fight against childhood obesity.

Graduate Michele DiRuggiero, First Vice President of the Student Nurses Association, received the Michael Mullen award. Michael Dermott Mullan, ’92, graduated from the Nursing Department and became a firefighter. He died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. His mother, Theresa Mullen, made a donation in his memory to outstanding nursing graduates who have served in the military or other public service role.

Prior to the recessional, the graduates lit their candles one by one and recited the Nurses Pledge before an audience of family and friends. As they left the stage to make the transition from pupil to professional, a final message was offered: Carpe diem “seize the day.” The world needs you.