MCCC’s Nightingales: Nursing Program Salutes 40 Graduates in Winter Pinning Ceremony


West Windsor, N.J. – Several years of intensive academic and clinical preparation paid off on Jan. 15, as 40 Nursing students from Mercer County Community College (MCCC) were conferred their A.S. degrees during the program’s Pinning Ceremony. It was one of the largest classes in recent years and included nine male students.

The night began with congratulatory remarks by MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang and Dr. J. Brandon Shaw, Vice President of Academic Affairs.

“We welcome you into this noble profession of nursing,” Wang said. “Nursing is not for the weak. It is an art and a science that requires attention to every detail both in and out of your classes.”

The graduates’ next step is to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Over the past few years, Mercer’s pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam has been over 90 percent.

Shaw challenged the group to surpass that number. "You have what it takes to reach 100 percent," he told the graduates to claps and cheers.

In her address, Valedictorian Naykis Arias of Mercerville expressed her gratitude to the Nursing program for becoming her guiding light amidst a career change. “A couple of years ago, I decided to go back to school. That was the easy part. Deciding where to go and what to study was a much bigger challenge,” she recalled.

Arias said that her Mercer experience was everything she was looking for, including a challenging curriculum, a schedule that allowed her to take classes at night, and credits that will transfer to a B.S.N. program.

Six students were singled out for special awards. In addition to Arias, who earned the Academic Excellence Award, other awardees included: Yashirie Benitez (Clinical Excellence), Rudra Singh (Professionalism), Isa Martinez (Caring), Bethany Duncan (Perseverance), and Shaiful Ali (Teamwork).

Three students, Aira, Alisson Rodriguez and Stephanie Evans, were inducted into MCCC's Epsilon Rho Chapter of Alpha Delta Nu, the national nursing honor society, whose mission is to promote scholarship and academic excellence.

After graduates received their pins, Director of Nursing Elizabeth Mizerek distributed their "Lamps of Learning" and led them in the Nightingale Pledge, named for the celebrated nurse Florence Nightingale. “These lamps symbolize the enlightenment and knowledge that will help you nurture that spark into a healthy flame,” Mizerek told the class.

The graduates’ excitement was palpable as they discussed where they’ve been and where they plan to go next. Graduate Scott Hutchinson said that he is ready to make the jump from Mercer’s close knit and supportive family to the workforce.

“I loved the community of students here. Everyone was so close, worked together and pushed each other to succeed,” Hutchinson said. “Mercer has prepared me so that no matter where I’m headed, I’m ready to work.”

Congratulations to all members of the Nursing Class of Winter 2019: Liana Alam, Shaiful Ali, Naykis Arias, Bernice Bassey, Yashirie Benitez, Lindsey Bessellieu, Lauren Bolchune, Raheeda Bowman, Bethany Duncan, Tara Dunfee, Courtney Elia, Stephanie Evans, Kelly Foster, Jenna Garzillo, Danely Gonzalez, Diana Gonzalez, Sarah Grasselli, Joanna Guarini, Gabriella Hahn, Scott Hutchinson, Heidi Jones, Shedrea Kelly, Marie Luce Kernizan, Magdalena Kuklinska, Brian Lemus-Camey, Isa Martinez, Brenna Massey, Jenna Maxwell, John Adriel Ng, Suyesha Pallava, Matthew Piamonte, Andrew Punzo, Heather Richardson, Alisson Rodriguez, Rudra Singh, Samuel Tootleman, Nadine Valencia, Robin Vindigni, Zachary Walton, and Sharifa Waziri.

View highlights from the Pinning Ceremony on Mercer's YouTube channel here.

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Time to celebrate!

Students receiving awards included, second from left to right, Isa Martinez (Caring Award); Yashirie Benitez (Clinical Excellence Award); Rudra Singh (Professionalism Award); Bethany Duncan (Perseverance Award); Shaiful Ali (Teamwork Award); and Naykis Arias (Academic Excellence Award). They are pictured with Director of Nursing Liz Mizerek, far left, and Nursing faculty member Florence Lee, far right.

Lamps were lit as part of the Nightingale Pledge portion of the ceremony.

Happy members of the graduating class, from left, Brenna Massey, Jenna Maxwell and John Adriel Ng.

Nine male students were among the graduates. They are, from left, Andrew Punzo, John Adriel Ng, Scott Hutchinson, Matthew Piamonte, Zachary Walton, Rudra Singh, and Brian Lemus-Camey. (Not pictured: Shaiful Ali.)