Florida Keys Community College marked the graduation of nine soon-to-be nurses with a traditional pinning ceremony on Friday.
Each graduate was presented his or her nurses' pin by select family members, friends, faculty, or mentors -- marking the completion of nursing school and the beginning of a new career.
Originating with nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War, the presentation of the nurses pin and the lighting of the nurses lamp symbolically initiate new nurses to the profession.
In her elocution, FKCC Nursing Director Dr. Ruth Gallagher encouraged the graduates of the rigorous 22-month Associate in Science degree program to "speak with honesty, think with sincerity and act with integrity."
"Be the leaders I know you can be, even as new graduate nurses. You can lead just as many leaders have done before you, and that is through role modeling, displaying a strong work ethic, and demonstrating integrity in every aspect of your role as a nurse."
The graduates are now eligible to apply to the State Board of Nursing to take the NCLEX-RN exam to become registered nurses.
Currently, FKCC boasts a high NCLEX-RN pass rate, with 98 percent of its graduates earning licensure -- that's compared to a 79 percent state average and an 84 percent national average.
Many of these graduates will immediately enter the workforce -- staffing hospitals, doctor's offices and health clinics throughout the Keys and elsewhere.
The college's limited-access nursing program prepares students to meet the health care needs of broadly diverse populations in continually changing and evolving settings.
The college's next nursing cohort begins in January. Applications for the fall 2014 class will be accepted until May 19.
For more information, visit www.fkcc.edu.