Virtual Pinning Ceremony Honors BMCC Nursing Program Graduates

January 7, 2021

The Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) Nursing program recognized 143 graduates from the classes of June 2020 and January 2021 during a virtual pinning ceremony January 6. In the weeks to come, the most recent BMCC graduates will take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (RNs).

Upon successful completion of the licensing test, the graduates will be in great demand as the nation continues its epic battle with a global pandemic. Overall, the country’s healthcare system will need to hire more than 1.1 million nurses by 2022 in order to replace retirees and take care of an aging population according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The event, held on the platform Zoom, began with a moving performance of the National Anthem by Pamela Cuevas from the Class of 2021.  Presidential cabinet members including Acting Provost and Senior VP for Academic Affairs Erwin Wong, Associate Dean of Faculty James Berg, Vice President for Student Affairs Marva Craig and Dean of Student Affairs Michael Hutmaker, all offered congratulatory remarks.  President Anthony E. Munroe welcomed the graduates and their families and friends, and provided words of encouragement.

“What you have achieved is tremendous,” President Munroe told the graduates. “You are embarking on a journey into a career that has been significantly challenged because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it is a rewarding career, it is a high calling.”

President Munroe said we are living through a transformational time for the field of nursing. He noted that demand for skilled nurses was at a peak in the healthcare industry. The president told the graduates they will now be equipped with the skills to make a difference in their patient’s lives.

“You will be a light in their darkness, you will be their hope, you will be there to comfort them when they have pain and sorrow,” said President Munroe.  “This is a great privilege you will have, and I know you will not take it lightly.”

Nursing program Chairperson Judy Eng said the ceremony is affirmation that BMCC graduates will be strong, competent nurses of tomorrow.

“The COVID Pandemic has brought a shift in normalcy and in many cases devastation to people’s lives this past year,” said Eng.  “People are resilient, hopeful and adaptive. The Nursing Pinning Ceremony is like salvation to the BMCC graduates, family, faculty and staff.  This event is celebrating the success of graduates from an already challenging nursing program while dealing with the havoc from the pandemic.”

In an especially moving moment, the graduates were recognized with the ceremonial pinning, many beaming in their crisp white uniforms, as they either pinned themselves, or enlisted friends or family to complete the task.

See all the graduates’ names.

Later, the graduates took part in the lighting of the Nursing Lamp and recited the Nurses Pledge which was led by Professor Edna Asknes.

John Brinegar RN, who soon after graduating BMCC’s Nursing program in 2019 began working in the surgical intensive care unit (ICU) at Bellevue Hospital was the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

Brinegar, who had moved to New York City 20 years ago from Indiana before enrolling at BMCC, had no idea that just one year into his career as a nurse in the emergency department of one of the world’s busiest hospitals a global pandemic would devastate New York City.

“The preparedness I learned while at BMCC proved more valuable than I could have anticipated,” said Brinegar. “Our department was surging with sick people.  I felt it.  We could all feel it.  Nurses were having emotional breakdowns. Nurses were getting sick. The senior nurses were doing their best to assign more experienced nurses with critical, intubated and complex cases and the newer nurses with everyone else.”

He said his fear was outmatched by the drive and inspiration he took from all the nurses who came before him and the those who taught him how to be ready for anything.

“I remember Professor Monique Cayo’s voice in that moment saying, ‘One of these days guys, you will be the nurse.’ I remember Professor Marcelle Edinboro’s saying, ‘So what are you going to do for your patient?’ I remember Professor Paula Field’s gentle hand literally guiding the way when I gave my first newborn injection. I remember Professor Catherine Mbewe forcing me to think critically. And I remember Dr. Hyacinth Martin giving me the confidence I needed to push through all of it.”

For all the graduate’s names, click here.

To watch the pinning ceremony, click the video at the top of the page.

Special Award Winners:

Class of June 2020

Nursing Award for Academic Excellence from the June 2020 class: Eric Santos, Chen Leng and Tanya Veloz.

The Professional Development Award: Madeline Dionicio, Jeong Yion Lee, Joanne Pascarella

The Nursing Humanitarian Award: Olga Santos, Brittany Charles, Nabil Ibrahim

The Best All Around Student: Cleopatra Williams, Anca Valeanu, Harry Cuartes

The Aubrey T. Robinson Award for Leadership, Intelligence, Compassion and Humor: Jacques Asperil (Fall 2019)

The Sylvia Vincent Corliss Award for Intelligence, Caring and Humor: Kim Valero (fall 2019)

Leadership Award—Cynthia Cruz (June 2020)

Class of January 2021

Nursing Award for Academic Excellence: Vanessa Constanza, Charles Yee, Iryna Rudyk

The Professional Development Award: Lesley Ortigoza, Marah Vincent, Migdalia Resto

The Nursing Humanitarian Award: Riaz Ali, Yao Xiong, Dierdre Boyce

The Best All Around Student: Xuanmei Zhang, Gaitri Roopnaraine-Deen, Sharett Bood

The Aubrey T. Robinson Award for Leadership, Intelligence, Compassion and Humor: Christopher Belvusar, Albert Stephens

The Sylvia Vincent Corliss Award for Intelligence, Caring and Humor: Julia Smith Reid, Chrisa Thomas

  • Ceremony recognizes 143 graduates from June 2020 and January 2021
  • Nurses are in great demand because of Covid-19 pandemic and aging population
  • Keynote speaker, 2019 BMCC graduate working at Bellevue ICU, says program equipped him with skills to work through pandemic

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