Pinning ceremony a milestone for nontraditional nursing students

Graduate School of Nursing recognizes 29 aspiring nurse leaders

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

September 17, 2013


The Pledge

Physicians and nurses pledge to serve their community and their profession. Our pledge is adapted from the original pledge developed for Florence Nightingale, which was based on the Hippocratic Oath.

I solemnly pledge myself in the presence of this assembly to practice my profession of nursing faithfully. I will provide care where care is needed and shape the environment in which care occurs so that the promise of caring may be fulfilled. I will center my practice on the welfare of all those in my care honoring the fullness of their humanity. I will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping. I will refrain from any action, and will not knowingly take any action, that will do harm. I will maintain and elevate the standards of my profession through reasoned inquiry and faithful scholarship, and by embodying the integrity expected of me by my peers and those I serve.

Students of the Graduate Entry Pathway (GEP) at UMass Medical School’s Graduate School of Nursing represent diverse backgrounds, life experiences and prior careers. But a single goal unites them: to become health care providers, educators and leaders with a passion for patient-centered care, teamwork and serving the underserved.

On Sept. 16, the GEP Pinning kicked off Convocation Week 2013, honoring the 29 men and women of the GEP Class of 2015/2017 in a tradition that signifies their readiness to become registered nurses as they continue their studies towards graduate nursing degrees. In a formal ceremony, students receive their Registered Nurse pins and recite a pledge to serve their communities and their profession.

“For our students, the academic work does not end here,” said Eileen Terrill, PhD, associate professor of nursing and director of the GEP Program. “Yet, as nursing forms the fundamental underpinning for advanced practice, we believe that it is necessary to acknowledge and celebrate this important milestone in our students’ academic program.”

Some of them will complete a Master of Nursing Science degree in 2015; others will earn the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in 2017. They want to work in rural areas and inner cities, practicing primary care in communities and critical care in hospitals, caring for immigrants, the poor, women and children, those with mental illness and addiction, HIV and cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The GEP was established at the GSN in 2004 to address the growing nursing workforce shortage by giving entrance into the profession to individuals with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than nursing. Students become registered nurses after one year of accelerated coursework, and then continue with graduate study that qualifies them to become nurse practitioners, nurse educators and nursing executives.

GEP faculty selected six students for awards of excellence, a difficult task according to Dr. Terrill, who said to the students, “We know that every one of you is excellent.”

  • Lynsey Teulings, Dina Wahbe and Amy Zurba received the Academic Excellence Award for the highest GPAs;
  • Hannah Wiberg received the Clinical Excellence Award for clinical skills;
  • James Ennis received the Spirit of Nursing Award for embodying the attributes of nursing; and
  • Class speaker Elizabeth Terhune received the Community Engagement Award for commitment to community service. 

“For just over a year, we have been intertwined in each other’s lives, morphing our identities and exploring our humanity individually and collectively along the way,” Terhune said. “This is an exceptional cadre of individuals whom I call my peers and consider to be family as well.”

Terhune also thanked school leaders and GEP faculty. “We are beneficiaries of the spirit of service and outreach, compassion, wisdom, and knowledge that they bring to their work,” she said.


  The Graduate Entry Pathway Class of 2015/2017   

Elizabeth B. Borys

Noah Jared Chappell

James Ennis

Michelle R. Epstein

Alexandra M. Haggerty

Melody C. Igwe

Hannah Marie Israel

Deborah Michelle Jean-Baptiste

Kathleen Marie Kasper

Rachel Erica Katz

Shira Rebecca Levien

Jeremy R. Malin

Julia Mitchell

Katherine E. Pereira

Paul L. Pilegi

Jackie S. Raymond

Sonja R. Schaffer

Hiva H. Shafa

Malgorzata E. Smas

Tanya R. Swiderski

Emmalee M. Tarra

Elizabeth H. Terhune

Lynsey Teulings

Elizabeth M. Tomkinson

Shannell H. Vance

Dina Salwa Wahbe

Stephanie C. Walters

Hannah K. Wiberg

Amy J. Zurba




About the Pin Design

The pin was designed by a student committee from the Class of 2007. Inside the shield, the column with the entwined snake symbolizes wisdom. Above the shield, the eagle’s wings symbolize protection and the star refers to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which is allowed to use that symbol as one of the original colonies. The star also stands for nobility of purpose. The laurel leaves symbolize both peace and triumph. The words “education, research, service, practice” inscribed in the banners surrounding the shield refer to the mission of the Graduate School of Nursing.


Related link on UMassMedNow:
Hockey player and brain tumor survivor turns to nursing to give back: Pinning ceremony marks emotional milestone for UMMS student