MCCC Recognizes 27 Nursing Graduates at 2020 Winter Pinning Ceremony


WEST WINDSOR  —  Family and friends, administrators, faculty members and staff gathered to celebrate and cheer on 27 nursing graduates at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) West Windsor Campus Sunday evening, January 19 at the Winter 2020 Nursing Education Pinning Ceremony. The event marked the completion of the students’ requirements for an associate degree in nursing.

The graduating class included three males and 24 females of various ages and backgrounds, all with the unique and noble calling to help others through nursing.

Welcoming speeches, addresses and congratulatory remarks from MCCC’s Director of Nursing Education, Elizabeth Mizerek; President, Dr. Jianping Wang; and Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Robert Schreyer kicked off the ceremony which took place in the Kelsey Theatre.

Mizerek opened with a warm greeting to graduates and other attendees: “Welcome to all of the graduates of the MCCC January 2020 nursing class,” said Mizerek. “ ...Today we recognize our students who have worked so hard to earn their nursing degrees.”

Wang, in her remarks, noted the tremendous efforts put forth by the students, “All 27 of you have completed a major milestone of a long journey to achieve your dream of being a nurse … we celebrate you.” 

And Schreyer touched on the possibilities, “This has been a commitment and a tireless effort. You chose an amazing profession not only in terms of helping others but it is great paying and you can branch out and continue to advance your career.”

Optimism about the future was palpable as one-by-one each graduate approached the stage to receive his or her diploma along with a time-honored pin that serves as a symbol of a nurse’s service to others. 

The next stop for the graduates is the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which is a requirement to receive registered nurse (RN) certification. Of the 27 graduates, seven have already passed the exam which tests an individual’s ability to think critically about nursing scenarios.

One MCCC graduate who passed the exam, Stephanie Pownall, has already accepted a nursing position. She starts next month in the ER, ICU and Telemetry Unit of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. “I am very excited about my new position,” said Pownall. “The Mercer program prepared me clinically and for the NCLEX.  I feel confident about being able to handle my position at Robert Wood.”

Nursing Valedictorian Savannah Duarte, who also successfully completed the NCLEX-RN exam, prepared an inspirational and heartfelt address that focused on the idea of  “simple acts of kindness” and shared her personal experience of initially doubting her abilities while in the program. “I didn’t do so well on my first exam,” said Duarte. “It was after I had my daughter and I had taken time off. Professor Dunn helped me through that with a simple act of kindness,” she explained.

Duarte went on to emphasize that through kindness each individual has an opportunity for powerful change. Duarte encouraged her colleagues to remember throughout their careers that small, day-to-day decisions do matter. “When it is 5 a.m. and you are tired and on your third shift, think about all the people who helped you get where you are today,” said Duarte. “Pay it forward….with one patient, one small act of kindness at a time.”

Six students were singled out for awards. In addition to Duarte who earned the Academic Excellence Award, other awardees included: Stephanie Pownall (Clinical Excellence), Jacqueline Mann (Professionalism), Kamila Grace (Caring), Shantia Loving (Perseverance) and Kate Jenkins (Teamwork).

Two students, Savannah Duarte and Kate Jenkins, were inducted into MCCC’s Epsilon Rho Chapter of Apha Delta Nu, the national nursing honor society, whose mission is to promote scholarship and academic excellence.

Director of Nursing, Elizabeth Mizerek facilitated the closing ceremony. She lead the graduates in the “Nightingale Pledge” while each held a candlelit “Lamp of Learning” — a nursing tradition attributed to Florence Nightingale who was born in 1820 and became a nurse despite the disapproval of her family. Nightengale became known as “The Lady With the Lamp” for visiting her patients at night while holding a light in her hand. 

After the pledge, the evening came to an end, but the feeling of new beginnings and celebration remained in the air as family and friends, professors and administrators congratulated their nurse graduates with hugs and smiles and words of encouragement. Mercer County Community College’s department of nursing had as much to celebrate as the graduates themselves. In 2019, Mercer’s nursing graduates’ pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam was 95.95% —  the third year in a row MCCC students have exceeded the national average. 

Congratulations to the MCCC Nursing Class of Winter 2020: Nelisha Bisono, Jennifer Colon, Sarah Costello, Mei Li Cully, Julia Degler, Savannah Duarte-RN, Ewelina Godlewska-RN, Kamila Grace, Penelope Hendrickson, Wendy Hernandez, Kate Jenkins-RN, Shannon Kenny, David Kirkenir-RN, Olga Klenevskaya-Kluz, Shantia Loving, Jacqueline Mann-RN, Cynthia Nnebe, Taylor Oakley, Kiersten Paul, Mikaela Petitto, Stephanie Pownall-RN, Emily Rivera, Monissia Roberts, Dustin Cyprian Rodriguez, Paula Teuchert, Javedhusen Vahora-RN, Peira Wood.


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MCCC recognized 27 nursing graduates at the 2020 Winter Pinning Ceremony on Sunday, Jan. 19 at the College’s West Windsor Campus.



 Pictured above are nursing graduates David Kirkener, Monissia Roberts and Jacqueline Mann.



Associate Professor Lisa Dunn with January 2020 Alpha Delta Nu inductees Kate Jenkins and Savannah Duarte, Valedictorian.