The University celebrated 111 students who committed to the nursing program and the service to Christ that it represents with a virtual ceremony Saturday.
The Commitment Ceremony was for students in the Class of 2022 who were recently accepted into the University’s highly-selective nursing major. School of Nursing Dean Dr. Phyllis King gave the introduction, followed by a welcome from President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn.
Senior nursing student Edwin Torres encouraged the incoming class to persevere, even when the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel seems distant or faint.
“I know what you feel, because I’ve been there,” Torres said.
Torres hadn’t set out to be a nurse. Before his nursing studies, Torres completed the automotive technology program at a local college. Soon after, he found that he was bored and wanted to do something different — and exciting. He enlisted in the Navy and found himself stationed in the emergency room of the naval hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.
“This was a real eye-opener for me,” Torres said.
He found himself completing tasks he never imagined, such as starting IVs, performing CPR and repairing deep cuts. More importantly, he saw the power that nurses had to advocate for their patients.
“I never envisioned pursuing a career in nursing until I experienced the passion of these nurses and witnessed the difference that they made,” Torres said.
His ER post came to an end only when it was time for him to change duty stations. He finished his commitment with the Navy with his mind made up to pursue a career in nursing.
PBA was his first and only choice when it came time to enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, said Torres, whose wife graduated from the School of Nursing in 2016. She had nothing but good things to say about the program — though she cautioned that it would be tough.
That toughness is for a purpose, Torres said.
“It is to ensure that you will keep people alive and to bring true life, to carry hope into a place of despair and to carry light into a place of darkness,” Torres said.
Like Torres, 2018 alumna Dainelle Wilson had a circuitous path to nursing. She aspired to work in health care since she was a senior in high school and earned a bachelor’s degree in biological science from another university.
Unsure how to achieve her dreams, she worked as a life guard for a few years following graduation.
“My desire to have a greater impact in the world guided me to work elsewhere,” Wilson said.
Wilson began teaching science at a school for students with autism, a population that is generally ignored or overlooked, she said. Despite that service, she was “at a standstill in her life.”
Her faith, family and friends helped her see that becoming a nurse would fulfill her desire to make a bigger impact in the world. She was accepted to begin classes at PBA in January 2016.
“It was a perfect fit because PBA incorporates faith-based learning seamlessly into the nursing curriculum,” Wilson said.
After graduation, she found her calling working on the medical surgical telemetry unit in the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. It has been “incredibly fulfilling,” despite chaos and challenges, she said. When the pandemic hit, her unit was converted into a COVID-19 ward with hazard walls and negative pressure floors for infection control. Nurses quickly learned how to use air-purifying helmets and keep up CDC guidelines that changed daily.
“During these difficult times, we must support and have respect for one another,” Wilson said.
In his remarks during the ceremony, Provost Dr. Randy Richards said nurses have rightfully been hailed as heroes because they run toward danger when everyone else is running away. He challenged students to pause and ponder the pledge they were about to take, rather than viewing it as a perfunctory activity.
“These are challenging days,” Richards said. “Are you willing to step forward and stand in the gap?”
Associate Dean Dr. Patrick Heyman ’94, who also serves as director of the University’s COVID-19 response, recognized each student by name. Then Assistant Professor Christine Conti, a 2014 BSN graduate and 2018 MSN graduate, led students in their pledge.
Nursing simulation lab coordinator Alex Geesey Hubley, a 2014 alumna and Master of Science in Nursing student, pronounced the Blessing of the Hands. The blessing is a prayer that signifies the tasks students will perform on a daily basis while taking care of their patients, Hubley said. Assistant Professor Dr. Michelle Smith gave the closing prayer.
Photo 1: Edwin Torres, a senior nursing student, encouraged the incoming class of nursing students at the Nursing Commitment ceremony.
Photo 2: Edwin Torres poses for photo in his nursing scrubs in Oceanview Hall on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.
Photo 3: Dainelle Wilson, a 2018 alumna of the School of Nursing, speaks to incoming nursing students about how fulfilling she's found a career in nursing.
Blessing of the Hands:
BLESSED be the works of your hands that will provide comfort to those in need.
BLESSED be your hands that will provide hope and strength to patients who are suffering.
BLESSED be your hands that give peace to those in fear and pain.
BLESSED be your hands that nurture and care for the lonely.
BLESSED be your hands that embrace others with passion.
BLESSED be your hands that will plant new seeds and touch new life.
BLESSED be your hands that will wipe away tears.
BLESSED be your hands that have reached out and been received.
BLESSED be your hands that embrace death and comfort those who mourn.
BLESSED be your hands that carry out tasks as part of caring for each other, your family and the community.
BLESSED be the hands that hold the promise of your future.
BLESSED be the works of your hands through Jesus Christ our LORD who will BLESS you and equip you to fulfill His purpose for your life.