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HCC Nursing holds 2020 Pinning Ceremony

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Highland Community College postponed its May commencement and later announced a virtual celebration of graduates. Highland’s spring class of 2020 had more than 200 graduates. During the traditional annual graduation ceremony, the Nursing program would hold a special pinning ceremony for Nursing and Medical Assistant students. This year, the college hosted the ceremony on Aug. 1.

The pinning ceremony was held in the parking lot next to the Natural Science Center/Ray and Betty Stamm Health Science Nursing Wing. With socially distanced seating for the graduates, with family sitting in their cars or on lawn chairs, the ceremony recognized each graduate with speeches from Chris Kuberski, President of Highland Community College and Dr. Jennifer Grobe, Associate Dean of Nursing & Allied Health.

The pinning ceremony is a time-honored nursing school tradition. Often more personally meaningful than the graduation ceremony for nurses, it signifies the official initiation into the brotherhood and sisterhood of nurses. The ceremonies began to include other allied health fields, such as Medical Assisting in the 20th century.

“This year, because the students could not be together in the last eight weeks of class to celebrate together, the pinning ceremony is a final time to join together to commemorate more than two years of hard work,” said Dr. Jen Grobe. “Because of the late date of the ceremony, many students have already passed their State Boards and have secured jobs. This made the day especially exciting.”

Kathryn Cifonie of Freeport was given the DAISY in Training award. The DAISY in Training Award is designed to remind students, even on the hardest days in nursing school, why becoming a nurse is an enriching career choice. It is for those students who exemplify the delivery of clinical care in a compassionate way to patients and their families.

Cierra Martin of Rockford was recognized with the ROSE award. The ROSE Award, which stands for Recognition of Service Excellence, rewards and celebrates the extraordinary efforts and compassion of a student.

Nursing graduates:

Apple River: Carolyn Karlow

Belvidere: Angel Anderson

Chana: Athena Page

Davis: Ashton Lizer; Nichole Tobler

Dixon: Krystal Theisinger

Elizabeth: Mollie Thoren

Freeport: Ammber Ammons; Ana Awender; Katya Awender; Jacqueline Bennett; Aurora Bollon; Nichole Buss; Kathryn Cifonie; Josie Cotherman; Miranda Cox; Jenny Gerber; Lindsey Huenefeld; Rebecca Kundert; Briana McNett Brittany Mordini; Michael Spangler; Dajonna Taylor; Ronald Webb; Autumn Yoder; Elisha Yount

Leaf River: Nina Barker

Monroe, WI: Nathan Middagh

Mt. Morris: Karen Jacinto

Pearl City: Tori Clark

Pecatonica: Crystal Mason

Polo: Alexis Grobe

Rockford: Krystle Cole; Catalina Galvan; Colleen Gulley; Jillian Kinney; Lillea Miramontes; Nyssa Russ

Sterling: Stephanie McLean

Stillman Valley: Tiffany Wolf

Stockton: Montana Bartell

Medical Assistant Graduates:

Freeport: Garrett McDonald; Kelsey Schmit

Lanark: Jenessa Witt

Lena: Jordyn Hughes

Ridott: Ashly Bliss

Rockford: Cierra Martin

To learn more about the Highland Community College Nursing and Allied Health program, go to or call 815-599-3679.