College of Nursing welcomes new students during ceremony

The ECU College of Nursing officially welcomed more than 140 future nurses with its Lamp of Learning Ceremony at the East Carolina Heart Institute on Thursday, Jan. 27.

During the Lamp of Learning ceremony, new nursing students receive golden lamp pins to wear on their scrubs that serve as a reminder of their commitment to service and the light that they are to patients and families. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

The college’s 119 new traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing students joined 23 accelerated second-degree BSN (ABSN) students in learning about the history of the college and the profession. Each student received a golden lamp pin to wear on their scrubs. The symbol is a nod to the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, and signifies service and light.

During the ceremony, Dean Sylvia Brown shared nursing’s long history of being cited as the most ethical profession and emphasized the importance of the trust that patients have in their nurses.

“Ethics is extremely important and for the public to recognize that, I think, is a high accolade for our profession,” Brown said. “During this pandemic it’s pointed out more the importance of nursing, our profession and what we’re doing worldwide to help fight this pandemic.”

The students pledged in front of their peers and faculty to practice their profession with respect and compassion for others, to maintain patient confidentiality, to collaborate with other health professionals, to advance nursing knowledge through scholarly inquiry, and to promote social justice for all as part of their official welcome into the College of Nursing.

Shannon Andrews was among the ABSN students receiving her pin at the ceremony. Andrews, who received her first baccalaureate degree in psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill, was inspired to become a nurse after the birth of her son.

“That was the first time for me being in the hospital, and the nurses were awesome, and it was the first time I realized how important it was to have people really care about what they’re doing around you. I decided I wanted to be that light for other people,” she said.

• Nursing students Priscilla Gichaca, left, and Sophie Giddings, pin each other with golden lamp pins. (Photo by Jeremy Smith, ECU College of Nursing)

Andrews is among the 18.4% of the incoming class who are minority students, making her decision to become a nurse even more meaningful, she said.

“It was an eye-opener sitting in there, looking at all the other students,” she said. “Being a minority in the group lets me know how important it is that I’m here, and how much the profession needs people that look like me. Being able to be a role model for people coming up who might want to join in the profession, that’s what it meant to me.”

Traditional BSN student Eden Wainwright said that watching nurses care for family members at the times when they most needed it motivated her to become a nurse.

“I was always very inspired by seeing nurses do what they do,” she said. “I admired how they could really impact somebody’s life — whether it’s doing medical things to just being a sense of support or being an advocate for their patients.

“I liked to see the impact that they had, and I hope that when I become a nurse one day that I can be that person that is there for (the patients) and be the type of nurse that their families would want for them.”

Admission to the College of Nursing’s BSN program is very competitive. In addition to meeting the university and college requirements, students’ scores on a required national pre-admission exam are considered along with their GPA, enrollment status and other factors. Students accepted into the traditional prelicensure BSN program for the Spring 2022 semester had an average GPA of 3.66.

ECU is the top producer of new nurses among North Carolina’s four-year educational institutions. Its online master’s program was ranked in the top 15% of national university program in the 2022 U.S. News Best Online Programs and is ranked fifth in the country in offering the best online master’s programs for veterans.

New baccalaureate students recite the Nurse’s Pledge during the bi-annual Lamp of Learning ceremony that welcomes new students into the college and introduces them to the nursing profession. (Photo by Jeremy Smith, ECU College of Nursing)