Calvin nurses and teachers get a final send-off in two end-of-year ceremonies.
The 58 nursing students who were pacing through their routine onstage at the Fine Arts Center (FAC) this week were getting instructions from nursing professor Cheryl Feenstra: “Don’t walk too fast. You need your 10 seconds of fame,” she advised.
The students were rehearsing for the 25th Department of Nursing Pinning Ceremony, held 8 p.m., Thursday, May 21 in the FAC. “This is just a wonderful time for all of the nursing students to come together,” said senior nursing student Bennett Samuel who will receive his pin at the event.
The pinning ceremony, which also includes a slideshow, music, prayers and the pinning address—this year delivered by Feenstra—has a long history at Calvin and in the field of nursing:
“You find the pinning ceremony goes back over a hundred years in the nursing profession,” said nursing department chair Mary Molewyk Doornbos. “When nursing did not exist in undergraduate institutions, the pinning ceremony substituted for the graduation ceremony.”
Central to the ceremony is the pinning itself. The Calvin pin was designed by the nursing class of 2004, the first nursing class to graduate solely from Calvin. Designed in maroon and gold, it combines a Trinitarian symbol with the Florence Nightingale Lamp, symbolizing the nursing profession, and the heart-in-hand motif, symbolizing Calvin College. Encircling the pin is the Calvin motto: “My heart I offer to you, Lord, promptly and sincerely.”
“The pin is a sign that we are called to work as agents of renewal wherever we are called to be,” said Samuel. Though the nursing program was challenging, he said, combining lots of bookwork with lots of practice, it was very rewarding: “I think the best thing about the program is the relationships we are able to form with students as well as faculty and staff. They’re really supportive.”
The pinning ceremony typically draws a crowd of around 500 family and friends of the student nurses. “It feels very intimate because it’s focused just on these 58 grads,” said Molewyk Doornbos. “When coupled with graduation, it makes a very special occasion.”
Commissioned and sent
While the nurses are rehearsing, Calvin’s student teachers are gearing up for their special occasion: the annual Teacher Commissioning Ceremony, held at 7:30, Friday, May 22, also in the FAC. The occasion, now in its 14th year, recognizes that Calvin’s 116 graduates of the education program have earned both a diploma and a teaching certificate. (Students who have earned a Master’s in Teaching or an additional endorsement are also invited to the ceremony.)
“We’re commissioning them to go out and do God’s work in our schools,” said education chair Robert Keeley, who will give the address at this year’s event. Along with the awarding of certificates, the commissioning also includes music, a litany and the handing out of key chains emblazoned with the Calvin logo.
“It’s so great to have all of our teacher education students in one place because, as graduates, they’re often so scattered,” said Keeley. “On this occasion, I’m able to connect with so many more of my students and meet their parents. I enjoy it.”
Emily Adema, an elementary education student and Spanish major who will receive her teacher certificate on Friday night, agreed: “It’s nice to have the smaller community get together the night before graduation because we’ve all had the same experiences,” she said.
Ending and beginning
Adema, who will teach at Calvin Christian Elementary School, likes the symbolism of the event: “It feels great to be done with the college part of my life, and I think this is a good ending ceremony to a new beginning of a teaching career.”
Keeley is excited about delivering this year’s address, though he remembers his role in last year’s commissioning quite fondly: “I got to shake the hands of the students and give them their key chains,” he reminisced. “It’s the best job in the whole place.”