Southwest Tennessee Community College

December 5, 2005

For more information, contact: Kimberly Stark (901) 333-4023

Release written by: Patricia O’Brien

The dearest memory in most nurses’ career preparation is the day of their Pinning Ceremony: the day they make their Nightingale pledge and receive the pin that signifies their recognition as Registered Nurses. The ceremony is usually followed by a reception –their celebration of their new status and their last activity together before they disperse to take up their nursing careers.

The Fall 2005 nursing graduates are looking forward are looking forward to their Pinning Ceremony December 17. But instead of the usual reception –complete with floral tributes, linen-aid tables lavish with trays and dishes of tasty treats, and a receiving line of faculty, guests and college dignitaries to congratulate them the one last time – they are sending the funds they raised for it to help New Orleans and Gulf Coast residents who lost the underpinnings of their lives to Katrina.

“Caring is the first characteristic of a nurse, and we stress that throughout their training,” said Nursing directory Mary Vines. “We are proud that our students have absorbed that lesson so well.” She said their final semester began with – in addition to the hardest studies of their training – excited plans for their Pinning and a variety of activities to raise funds for their reception. “And then Ruth Petty arrived.”

Petty was a senior level nursing student at Delgado Community College in New Orleans. She applied to Southwest because it was one of the few associate degree nursing programs in the area accepting qualified Katrina evacuees. “We worked with Delgado’s dean – herself an evacuee here at the time –to allow Petty to take her final semester courses with us, transfer them to Delgado, and allow her to graduate on schedule.”

In the following weeks, Petty’s presence brought the reality of the Katrina devastation front and center for the entire class. And slowly, they came to the decision to forego their reception. Instead of ending their ceremony with a celebration of their future, they will be paying homage to the spirit of survival and camaraderie. This is the same spirit the Salvation Army represented when they were the earliest on the ground in the region with their relief efforts. “The check they are giving to the Salvation Army to continue their work is their way of recognizing them as a mentoring spirit to their own chosen careers,” said Vines.

The Pinning Ceremony will be December 17 at 11 a.m. at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. All staff, faculty and students are invited.