GARDNER -- On Monday night, 39 licensed practical nursing students from 25 communities were welcomed into the nursing profession during the traditional nurses pinning ceremony that marks the end of their schooling at Mount Wachusett Community College.

"The pinning ceremony is always my favorite," MWCC President James Vander Hooven told a theater full of friends and family of the graduating class at the ceremony Monday night. "You get to see the emotion in their faces. You get to know what they've been through. And you get to know that moving into the future we are graduating students who are going to save lives."

The graduation ceremony capped off a 41-week certificate program for the students who may go on to work as nurses in health care facilities including doctor's offices, long-term care facilities and clinics.

"We're here because we want to make a difference. We had that call light click on for us and we made a sacrifice of so much sweat and tears," said LPN John Mazur during the ceremony. "We stuck with it and we pushed past our envelope... and no matter what the future holds for us and how far we travel, a part of us will always remain here at Mount Wachusett Community College."

Dressed in traditional nurse uniforms, the students were welcomed into the profession by having the program's nursing pin fastened to their lapels by a family member, friend, or an alumnus of the program, or a faculty member. The pin marks where the nurses completed their studies and distinguishes them from other healthcare professionals.


The eight-star MWCC pin is imprinted with the words "Service to Humanity and the World."

As part of the ceremony, the students also took a nursing pledge that dates back to Florence Nightingale, who distinguished herself during the Crimean War by coming to the aid of sick and wounded soldiers.

The practical nursing class of 2018 included:

Acton: Sharon Boucher, Marcia Dasilva

Ashby: Mackenzie Powers

Ayer: Kourtney Van Tassell

Harvard: Erin MacKenzie

Townsend: Joyce Jenness