- by Mount Saint Mary College

Mount Saint Mary College honored 33 new graduates of its prestigious Nursing program at a virtual pinning ceremony on Saturday, December 12.

The ceremony was hosted by Colleen Fleming-Damon, assistant professor of Nursing at the Mount.

 Dr. Jason Adsit, president of the college, commended the students on a job well done. “You can take a breath, you can pat yourself on the back, and you can finally say you made it,” said Dr. Adsit. “I’m incredibly proud of all of you [and] I remain incredibly proud and impressed with the dedicated leadership and faculty in the School of Nursing. Welcome to the noble profession.” He added that nurses “really and truly are the frontlines of the global pandemic and helping us move forward.” 

Susan LaRocco, dean of Mount Saint Mary College’s School of Nursing, reminded students of the symbolic importance of their Mount Nursing pin. 

“Graduates, I hope that you will wear your Mount Saint Mary College pin with pride,” said LaRocco. “It should remind you of our expectations of our graduates: first and foremost, to provide culturally congruent, safe, high quality care based on ethical principles, to diverse populations across the lifespan.” 

The ceremony’s keynote speaker was Mount alumna Lynette DeBellis, instructor of Nursing at the college. DeBellis emphasized that the new graduates should maintain excellence in their compassion, their professionalism, and their skills.

 “The reason for excellence is the patient,” she said. “From this day forward, as you begin your professional nursing career, each day your patient will expect and deserve excellence from you.”

Jenny Pou of New Windsor, N.Y. was asked by her classmates to offer her reflections on the group’s journey from novices to graduates.

“I never thought of this as being possible, especially because English is not my first language and I was always cautious before talking,” Pou said. “But here I am. It might sounds like a cliché, but nothing is impossible when you believe in yourself and you are surrounded by people that show you love and acceptance.” 

Pou added, “Love is the foundation of everything. It is because of love that, one day, we decided that we wanted to become nurses. Love for family, for children, for service, for others. And we ended by falling in love with our nursing profession.” 

The graduates were full of praise for their families.Aleena Alexander of Wappingers Falls, N.Y. said that she was “Dedicating my pin to my mom and brother, who are my inspiration and have made many sacrifices to help me accomplish my goals. Incredibly thankful for my family and friends for their constant love and support.”

 Her classmate, Roseann Arciuolo of Milton, N.Y., revealed the impact that her grandmother had on her education: “During one of our last conversations, I promised my grandmother I would go to college. I dedicate this to her and to the rest of my family for having faith in my success. I would also like to recognize all those we have lost to COVID-19.”

Fr. Gregoire Fluet, chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, offered a prayer to the new graduates: “Bless those who receive these pins today. Bless their families and friends who made their journey possible. Allow this class to experience your presence, your joy, and peace this day and every day. We thank you Lord, also, for the wonderful faculty of the School of Nursing.” 

Several students from the class of 2020 were recognized for excellence in their studies and dedication to the field of Nursing. The award recipients were: 

  • School of Nursing Clinical Excellence Award:Monique Wanzer of Middletown, N.Y.
  • School of Nursing Leadership Award: Larissa Dutkanicz of West Point, N.Y.
  • Perseverance Award: Cyndee Santiago of New Windsor, N.Y.
  • General Excellence in Nursing Award: Christine Galarza of Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
  • Spirit of Nursing Award: Yaneke Richards of New Windsor, N.Y.
  • Sigma Nursing Award: Jenny Ortiz Dulanto of Ossining, N.Y. 

In addition to the speakers and award recipients, the December 2020 Mount Nursing graduates includes: Kelly Ann Agnew of Milton, N.Y.; Amanda Aguila of Wallkill, N.Y.; Matthew Ashley of Pine Bush, N.Y.; Idalia Bellevue of Monroe, N.Y.; Candice Burgess of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Sheri Butler of Sparrowbush, N.Y.; Diana Campos of Kingston, N.Y.; Jennifer Cannella of Wallkill, N.Y.; Anthony Garzone of Chester, N.Y.; Latoya Griffiths of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Sanni Hussain of Kingston, N.Y.; Kevin Jimenez of Middletown, N.Y.; Kimberly Lyrintzis of Goshen, N.Y.; Christine McCaw of New Windsor, N.Y.; Heather Park of Chester, N.Y.; Stephanie Passante-Lucas of Highland, N.Y.; Kristin Polanco-Orosz of Newburgh, N.Y.; Jewel Rodriguez of Middletown, N.Y.; John Sexton of Mahopac, N.Y.; Michelle Simmons of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Helen Staniszewski of Fishkill, N.Y.; Foon Tong of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Lawrence Whitehead of Middletown, N.Y.; and Rachel Zupan of Mahopac, N.Y.

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