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Austin Peay State University School of Nursing hosts drive-thru pinning ceremony


Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) campus has remained quiet for the last two months, with the school going fully online in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, but on Thursday afternoon, May 7th, 2020, the sounds of cheers, honking horns and pop music echoed out of the McCord Parking Lot.

Austin Peay State University Nursing faculty congratulate graduates. (APSU)

Austin Peay State University Nursing faculty congratulate graduates. (APSU)

There, beneath red tents decorated with balloons, members of APSU’s School Nursing stood – six feet apart and wearing masks – cheering on their 2020 graduates.

“This is our new COVID-19 pinning ceremony, and we’re excited,” Dr. Eve Rice, interim director of the School of Nursing, said. “It’s a drive-thru ceremony, and we have two lines with tables. We made homemade masks, and the pin is pinned on the mask.”

Pinning ceremonies, which were established more than 100 years ago by Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, are symbolic events that welcome recent graduates into their new profession.

Austin Peay State University has hosted a ceremony each year for decades, and the School of Nursing’s faculty made sure the current pandemic didn’t break that tradition this year.

Austin Peay State University Nursing Graduates received a mask with the pin. (APSU)

Austin Peay State University Nursing Graduates received a mask with the pin. (APSU)

“I think it was really nice that they went out of their way to do something for us when we couldn’t have a traditional ceremony,” Dakota Collins said through the window of a red Mini Cooper. She, like several other graduates, acknowledged that Thursday’s ceremony carried a little extra meaning because she was preparing to join the front lines in fight against COVID-19 Coronavirus.

“I’m nervous but I feel prepared,” she said. “I feel our professors did a really good job of preparing us for what we’re walking into now.”



The mood of the outdoor, drive-by ceremony, however, remained upbeat. Faculty members danced and cheered to the music, waving large signs with messages like, “You did it!” and “Conquered COVID!” APSU President Alisa White, wearing a protective mask, also attended, standing at a safe distance to shout her congratulations at the graduates.

“This is definitely out of the norm, which is very School of Nursing style,” Elizabeth Cunningham, a nursing graduate, said. “I wouldn’t expect anything different, and it still gives us the opportunity to participate.”

Austin Peay State University Nursing faculty. (APSU)

Austin Peay State University Nursing faculty. (APSU)

Two cars ahead of her in the line, student Ashley Douglas received her mask and pin.

“It’s interesting, that’s for sure,” she said. “You won’t forget it.”

Before driving off, Douglas was asked if she had any concerns about working as a nurse during a pandemic. She shook her head as if to dismiss the question.

“I’m ready,” she said. “I’m excited.”




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