RSU Honors 46 Nursing Graduates at Pinning Ceremony May 10

  • Woman speaking at podium

Rogers State University honored its 41st graduating class of nurses at the annual Nurses Pinning Ceremony, held Friday, May 10 at First Baptist Church in Claremore.

Dr. Carla Lynch, associate dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions, started the ceremony with the welcoming of students, guests and audience members.

“Graduates, I’m so proud that each of you is here today,” Dr. Lynch said. “I know you’ve been challenged in so many ways since you started the (nursing) program in 2022. I know you’ve been challenged and expanded, but you’ve risen to the test, you’ve achieved, and you’ve earned what you’ve needed to earn time and time again, so congratulations – you’ve done a great job.

“Now that you’re a nurse, you will forever and always be a nurse, you will always think like a nurse, you will never not be a nurse,” she said. “I can personally say that being a nurse is one of life’s greatest privileges. It will open doors for opportunities that most people never get. It provides a sense of making a difference every day as you go to work and help people, so I hope that – like me and the other faculty here – becoming a nurse is one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

“With this in mind, I just want to share three things with you – three important nuggets of advice for how to have a happy life as a nurse,” she said. “Number one – use kindness. Be generous in your dealings with others and assume the best about people. Number two – do the work. As each of you know, you must do the work to get where you’re at, and number three – we’re all on the same time. You cannot do nursing or life by yourself. It’s not a competition.”

Lynch then introduced RSU President Dr. Larry Rice, whom she described as a “strong advocate and supporter of the nursing program” throughout his tenure as president.

“Graduates, families and distinguished guests, what a privilege it is for me to be here,” Dr. Rice began. “Nurses, I know how hard you worked to get here. I’ve been here 16 years as president – was here a few years before that in other capacities, but throughout my time in higher education, I’ve always had the honor of witnessing how hard it is to become an RSU nurse and how high the standard, how high the bar is for you and for those who came before you.

“I’m so old that I was here when the Nursing program was getting started,” he said, “and – from that first class of 1983, I had the privilege of working with one of those individuals. The bar was set very high by the previous faculty and students, so I know how hard it is to earn those pins that we’re going to pin on you today. I just want to say that bar is set so high that the RSU nurse is a brand, and I have no reservations in saying that this class will continue to set that bar high for those to follow.”

Rice touched on the personal relationships he’s had with nursing graduates, including a particularly personal relationship with one in the class of 2024 – his own granddaughter – concluding with words of encouragement, reiterating that the RSU nurse is a “strong brand” and jokingly added he hoped not to see any of them in their professional career any time soon.

“God bless you. Go Hillcats,” he said.

Following Rice’s remarks, assistant professor and undergraduate program coordinator Samantha Rhea recognized instructor Amber Sanchez as the recipient of the Faculty Service Award, after which instructor Sheryl Klenovich presented Rita Byfield with the Clinical Adjunct Award.

Dr. Cassandra Barrow then took the podium to acknowledge family and friends’ support of the nursing students.

Honor graduates were then acknowledged by Amer Sanchez, who recognized Madison White as Outstanding Graduate, and nursing instructor Dr. Connie Nelson recognized Kerston Simpson as Distinguished Graduate.

BSN pins were then presented to graduating nurses by Rebekah Inman, with the assistance of nursing faculty.

Those receiving their pins were: Xoey Alexander of Owasso, Elizabeth Bippus of Owasso, Kayla Brown of Claremore, Aubrey Campos of Fayetteville, Ark., Addison Catlett of Broken Arrow, Rachel Clump of Bartlesville, Alexis Crosier of Collinsville, Hayden Day of Owasso, Cloe Dennis of Claremore, Elysha Foster of Pryor, Charlesey Fromme of Claremore, Grace Gabel of Claremore, Kaitlyn Gaskins of Salina, Kristina Gibson of Claremore, Megan Gill of Tulsa, Kimiko Graham of Owasso, Mckenzie Helm of Claremore, Branden Hilderbrand of Broken Arrow, Amanda Howe of Claremore, Kristen Hunt of Hulbert, Skyler Jones of Tulsa, Alyssa Knight of Broken Arrow, Brandi Lindley of Dewey, Cheyenne Litterell of Bixby, and Sarah Maras of Haskell.

Also receiving their pins were Jonathan Matthews of Tulsa, Maria Eduarda Mota of Claremore, Caroline Ndiritu of Tulsa, Abigail Persson of Claremore, Kimberly Rabang of Claremore, Ashley Rangel of Tulsa, Donna Reed-Gabriel of Miami, Ashlynn Reynolds of Owasso, Clarissa Rodriguez of Tulsa, Logan Rotramel of Chouteau, Jenna Scheckel of Owasso, Riley Sellers of Skiatook, Kerston Simpson of Oologah, Reagan Spiva of Ripley, Ella Suiter of Pyor, Avery Taylor of Catoosa, Dakota Teel of Skiatook, Kourtnie Weierman of Broken Arrow, Kailey White of Claremore, Madison White of Owasso, and Rylee Williams of Noble.

Following the presentation of pins, assistant professor of nursing Tonya Ballone led the students in the recitation of the Florence Nightingale Pledge: “I solemnly pledge myself to practice my profession faithfully, do all in my power and maintain and elevate the standards of my profession, and to dedicate myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.

During her closing remarks, Dr. Lynch congratulated the newly pinned nurses and wished them much success in their chosen profession.

For more information about Rogers State University’s nursing program, visit