Pinning Excellence: Maria College Recognizes 180 Nursing Graduates at White Tea Ceremony

Friday, May 24, 2024 — Maria College, the Capital Region’s largest producer of nursing graduates, commemorated the achievements of the Class of 2024 this afternoon with a symbolic White Tea celebration on the campus’ Great Lawn.


The ceremony, steeped in tradition, featured the presentation of nursing pins to 180 graduating nursing students in its RN-BS Completion, Nursing, AAS (RN), Online Bachelors Nursing Completion (BSO) and Practical Nurse Certificate (LPN). The pins signify the culmination of years of dedication, sacrifice, and the mastery of essential nursing skills. Following the ceremony, selected students shared speeches, reflecting on their educational paths, expressing gratitude, and inspiring their peers.

Anne Jung, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs, chief academic officer, dean of the college, said the White Tea ceremony celebrates the culmination of rigorous academic study and clinical training for the college’s nursing students.

“Nursing is a challenging but essential profession and the nurses that come through our program are uniquely equipped to thrive in a modern healthcare environment,” she said. “It’s why they are in such high demand upon their graduation. They have mastered a complex body of knowledge and honed their skills using a combination of traditional and state-of-the-art learning methods, so they are prepared to provide high-quality care regardless of the clinical setting in which they serve.”

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“Maria College graduates more nurses than any other college in the region prepared to be leaders in a very complex and ever-changing world,” added Maria College President Lynn Ortale, Ph.D. “Our first-time NCLEX pass rates are consistently above the national average providing our students an excellent return on their investment. Our nurses excel academically while embracing our Mercy mission of respect and dignity for all persons. Today, we celebrate their academic and personal accomplishments and have great pride in their leadership and expertise to positively impact the lives of their patients and have a transformative effect on the healthcare profession.”

During the ceremony, Zoe Wicks, a full-time instructor in the Practical Nursing Certificate Program, received the prestigious Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nursing Faculty. The accolade honors faculty members’ vital role in shaping the next generation of nurses. Nicole Whiting, a soon-to-be graduate, nominated Wicks, citing her unwavering support and encouragement, which fostered a nurturing learning environment. Under Wicks’ mentorship, Whiting gained confidence and successfully performed challenging procedures like suctioning tracheostomies. Whiting expressed profound gratitude and aspires to emulate Wicks’ exceptional qualities throughout her nursing career.

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The tradition of pinning ceremonies traces back to the late 1800s, when Florence Nightingale introduced the practice. In a symbolic gesture, she would ceremonially pin her nurses upon the completion of their training, marking their official entry into the nursing profession.

In 1961, Maria College inaugurated its own pinning ceremonies, adding a touch of elegance with afternoon tea. Dubbed “The White Tea,” this event saw students don white uniforms for the first time.

Initially an intimate affair reserved for graduating students and faculty, the White Tea tradition has since evolved into a cherished event that attracts families and friends, joining in the celebration.

Maria College’s pin symbolizes the institution’s and the Sisters of Mercy’s steadfast commitment to compassionate service, echoing Florence Nightingale’s vision of fostering shared knowledge and lifelong learning.

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In addition to the White Tea, Maria College will celebrate the Commencement of the Class of 2024 on Sunday, May 19, in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. For details, visit