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Atlantic Cape Nursing Program Recognizes 82 Graduates During Annual Pinning Ceremony

05/19/2023 | Media Contact: David Zuba, Public Relations Manager and Copywriter | (609) 343-4933
Atlantic Cape Nursing Program graduates at the Annual Pinning Ceremony on May 17

MAYS LANDING — In keeping with a tradition that started nine centuries ago as a way to recognize those who vowed to care for the sick and wounded, and more recently, to acknowledge the completion of their arduous educational journey, Atlantic Cape Community College’s Nursing Program held its Annual Nurses Pinning Ceremony on May 17 in the Quad on the Mays Landing campus.

Nursing graduate accepts her medal and RN diploma“To complete this program our students have demonstrated hard work, discipline, persistence and focus. These qualities are essential to your success as nurses and we are all confident that you will achieve your goals,” said Atlantic Cape President Dr. Barbara Gaba as she addressed the students, family, friends, and faculty and staff in attendance. “I cannot overstate how proud I am of each and every one of you. You are more skilled, more knowledgeable and more prepared today to meet the unexpected challenges to come.”

Atlantic Cape Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences Myrna Morales-Keklak thanked the families, friends and loved ones in attendance, then spoke to the 82 graduating nurses as they embark on the next phase of their nursing journey.

Professor Polly Thieler gets emotional during the Annual Pinning Ceremony“No matter how well we plan in nursing there will always be setbacks. We work with human beings at some of their most difficult times in life. You may have days of frustration, heartbreak and despair, but never think that nursing is not for you, that you do not have what it takes to be a nurse,” Morales-Keklak implored. “You are here today because you have clearly done what is needed and more, you cared and you did not give up. Nursing makes sense to you, and most importantly, learn to celebrate every one of your successes.”

Keynote speaker and Registered Nurse Pat Connelly was part of what was then called Atlantic Community College’s first graduating class in 1969. Since then, more than 3,000 nurses have obtained their RN degrees from Atlantic Cape. Connelly advised the graduates to, “go for your goals, be determined, love what you do and do it well. Find your passion and follow your dreams.”

Valedictorian and graduate speaker Erin Stafford addresses the crowdGraduate speaker and Valedictorian Erin Stafford, who is currently an ICU Patient Technician at Jefferson University in Washington Township, congratulated his fellow classmates on their hard work, perseverance and successes, and thanked the many who played a vital role in their accomplishments.

“I would like to thank the faculty here at Atlantic Cape who have chosen to use their knowledge and experience to foster the next generation of healers. I firmly believe that educators epitomize the saying that ‘a legacy is planting seeds in a garden that you never get to see.’ We are thankful for everything you have given us,” Stafford said. “Our family’s and friend’s love and support has been foundational to our success. This day has been the dream behind all of our efforts.”

Stafford stressed the importance of the work that goes into and comes from nursing.

“As nurses we are uniquely privileged to impact the lives of our patients. As we offer ourselves and service to humanity, nurses are healers and lifelong learners,” Stafford said. “What other profession offers the honor of assisting new life into the world and preserving dignity at the end of one? Never doubt your ability to make an impact on the lives you care for.”

Dr. Michelfelder on the left with Professor Caplan in the middle and Dean Keklak on the rightClinical Scheduling Coordinator Professor Myra Caplan, who is retiring on June 30 after 22 years of service to the Atlantic Cape Nursing Program, and Assistant Professor Polly Thieler, who will retire after the upcoming Fall semester, were honored for their many years of dedicated service to the college. Department of Nursing Chairperson Dr. Geralyn Michelfelder spoke glowingly of Professor Caplan.

“All of us have benefited from her wisdom, knowledge, wit and caring. She has spent five decades in nursing and she is the epitome of all the opportunities that nursing may provide.”

Nursing faculty member Deborah DaGrosa emotionally thanked Professor Thieler for her friendship and professionalism over the years.

“She has always been the voice of reason. She has been a friend, a colleague and a big part of my support system more times than anyone will ever know,” DaGrosa said of Thieler. “I know she has made an undeniable difference to you, her students, with the way she cares for you, looks out for you and the way she has supported you.”

Atlantic Cape President Dr. Barbara Gaba speaks at the Annual Nurses Pinning Ceremony on May 17In the end, Gaba implored the nursing graduates to continue their education and to never stop learning.

“Your significant accomplishment today will serve as a catalyst as you move further along in your career. I urge you to seriously consider moving on to earn your bachelor’s in nursing. You’ve made it this far, why not keep going?” Gaba said. “Your education from Atlantic Cape can take you farther than you can possibly imagine at this moment. This is only the first step. I encourage you to keep learning because it is continuous and you should always keep growing.”

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About Atlantic Cape Community College

Atlantic Cape is a comprehensive two-year community college serving the residents of Atlantic and Cape May counties. The college offers over 40 career, transfer and workforce development programs to more than 8,000 students annually at three campuses in New Jersey: Atlantic City, Cape May Court House and Mays Landing.