Graduating nursing students extend their hands for a blessing during the College of Nursing's annual pining ceremony May 12, 2023.

As National Nurses Week came to a close, Niagara University’s College of Nursing celebrated the academic achievements and outstanding clinical successes of its graduating students with its annual pinning ceremony on Friday, May 12, 2023.

Timothy Hinsken2

Timothy Hinsken receives his nursing pin.

Fifty-nine graduates of the college’s traditional program received pins signifying academic achievement, scholarly learning, professional dedication, and Christian commitment in the university’s Gallagher Center during the ceremony. The pins, which are unique to Niagara University’s nursing tradition, acknowledge entry into the nursing profession and have been worn by more than 3,500 NU nurses.

Following the blessing of the pins by the Rev. Gregory Semeniuk, C.M., vice president for Mission Integration, the graduating students crossed the floor as their names were read by Dr. Scott Erdley, director for the SIM and skills lab. They received their pins from family, friends, and faculty, and had their hands anointed and blessed as a symbolic welcoming into the nursing profession. 

Several students and faculty members were recognized with special awards during the ceremony, as well.

The Vincentian Spirit Award was given to Laura Holthouse, assistant to the dean of nursing, and Marissa Frank-Sasiadek received the College of Nursing Perseverance Award. Tabitha McNamara and senior lecturer Karleen Bordonaro received Faculty Excellence in Teaching Awards for full- and part-time/adjunct faculty, respectively, honors selected by the students of the college. The Monsignor Duggan Award, selected by the deans of all Niagara’s colleges for outstanding scholarship and participation in student life, was presented to Emilee Festa. Mackenzie Merry received the Dean’s Award in recognition of academic achievement—she earned the highest GPA in the graduating class— and her outstanding work as an early nurse clinician.   

Two DAISY awards were also presented. Danielle Howard received the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students, and Jennifer Olmstead, coordinator of the traditional program, received the DAISY Faculty Award. These awards were established by the DAISY Foundation as part of its service to the nursing profession's role in patient care.

The event began with a gathering song performed by theatre students Ryan Henneberger and Gabby Galante and a welcome by Olmstead. Prayers, reflections, and remarks were offered by the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara University president; Father Semeniuk; and Dr. Christine Verni, dean of the College of Nursing.

“You are the luckiest graduates at Niagara University because you are in nursing and there is no more rewarding or meaningful field,” said Dr. Verni.

A call to nurses, led by McNamara, and the recitation of the nurses creed by all the nurses present, led by faculty fellow and skills lab coordinator Alycia Cramer, rounded out the ceremony.

Niagara University has a long history of nursing education with a proud legacy of successful and engaged alumni. Accredited by the New York State Department of Education and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), Niagara University's College of Nursing offers offer two different degree programs: a bachelor of science degree in nursing and a one-year accelerated B.S. in nursing. For more information, visit

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