ERIE, Pa. — Graduates of the nursing program at Penn State Behrend gather every year before commencement for a pinning ceremony, where they commit to a life of service with a tradition that dates to the Crusades. The pin, which is presented by Penn State’s Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing, symbolizes that a graduate has successfully completed the educational requirements that are needed for the state licensure exam.
This year’s program, held May 4 at the Ambassador Banquet and Conference Center in Erie, honored 40 new graduates.
Michael Evans, assistant dean for Undergraduate Nursing Education at Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses, served as the faculty speaker. Rachael McCauley, a new graduate from Kennerdell, in Venango County, was the student speaker.
The pin has been used to identify nurses and caregivers since the 12th century, when the Knights of the Order of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist tended to soldiers who were injured in the Crusades. Their uniforms were marked with a Maltese cross.
In the 1860s, during the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale was awarded the Red Cross of St. George in recognition of her service to wounded soldiers. She continued the tradition, awarding medals of excellence to select graduates of the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital. Soon after, the practice was adopted across the United States.