Female hands holding gold pin attached to blue ribbon

44 aspiring R.N.s celebrate completing their nursing program


When Jasmine Qualls walked across the stage in Betty Irene Moore Hall Thursday night, it was a moment the future registered nurse (R.N.) never thought would happen.

“From being waitlisted, receiving rejection letters, nursing programs shutting down or refusing admittance to California applicants, to say this has been a long and discouraging journey is an understatement,” she recalled. “Before getting accepted to this program, I had almost given up on becoming an R.N.”

Yet she and 43 classmates in the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis celebrated the completion of their 18-month program together in the traditional pinning celebration.

Jasmine Qualls, center, smiling and wearing pin on blue ribbon around her neck with her father standing to her left and her mother on her right
Jasmine Qualls, center, plans to be a nurse who advocates for her patients with a sense of justice, safety and compassion.

“I’m thrilled that 44 Betty Irene Moore nurses will soon be joining the more than 4 million registered nurses working in the U.S.,” Dean Stephen Cavanagh told the crowd of more than 400. “Thanks to your study here, you bring the values and beliefs of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing with you and our shared vision of optimal health and health equity for all.”

The pinning tradition

The tradition of pinning dates back to the 12th century. Its significance in nursing was solidified during the Crimean War when Florence Nightingale’s clinical insights and selfless efforts earned her the red cross of St. George.

“The pins you are receiving tonight signal to the world that you are now part of the noble and honorable profession of nursing,” said Charleen Singh, assistant director of the program. “Each one of you exemplifies the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing mission and vision through leadership, clinical excellence and scholarship, cultural inclusivity and interprofessional collaboration.”

Stephen Cavanagh headshot
Thanks to your study here, you bring the values and beliefs of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing with you and our shared vision of optimal health and health equity for all.Dean Stephen Cavanagh

For the members of the program’s sixth cohort, the moment signifies more than just the tradition.

“It is also celebrating the 44 different individuals with various backgrounds, experiences and challenges who set a goal to become a nurse,” explained Dan Calzado, a new graduate of the program. “The pinning ceremony honors the support system of everyone, from our families, friends, partners, professors, advisers and many others who may have contributed to the application process, struggles during school and soon for job hunting.”

Next steps in the journey

These graduates must now pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, or NCLEX, which is required for nursing graduates to successfully pass to be licensed as an R.N. in the U.S.

 Dan Calzado stands in center of group of students who are raising hands and reciting a nursing pledge
Dan Calzado, center, pledges to practice with compassion and respect with the 43 other nursing graduates.

“Remember, you leave here not just a nurse, but a Betty Irene Moore nurse. You are leaders, problem-solvers and change agents,” said Program Director Shana Ruggenberg.

For Qualls, she’s thankful she gave applying to graduate school one last attempt. She now looks forward to kind of nurse – and leader – she plans to become.

“My hope is that I always advocate for my patients while providing ethically competent care, maintain a sense of justice, safety and compassion, while remaining level-headed and professional, even in times of intensity,” she said.