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TCNJ nursing students receive ceremonial white coats

Sophomore nursing students received white lab coats from Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science faculty in the fifth annual White Coat Ceremony in Mayo Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 13. This marks the students’ first major professional milestone in their careers.

“I was really excited in the days leading up to tonight. For me this ceremony meant a lot,” says Andi Aggarao ’22. “It’s like a rite of passage as a student nurse to be able to don the white coat.”

The 67 students proceeded down the steps of Mayo Hall, white coats in hand, waiting to be formally welcomed into the nursing profession.

The lab coat is a symbol of the students’ journey as they begin their clinical rotations, where they get their first experience interacting with real-life patients.

“The white coat indicates a professionalism that is both a responsibility and a sense of pride,” said Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, William W. Keep during his congratulatory remarks.

Nursing faculty members cloaked each student one by one as they crossed the stage.

The student nurses also received a unique note from a TCNJ nursing alumnus congratulating them and offering advice from those who have been there, done that, and continue to work in the field every day.

“Take your message on your first day of clinicals and keep it close and read it when you feel a little bit nervous or taken aback,” said Sharon Byrne, chair of the nursing program. “Know that that alumnus was in the same shoes as you are right now and they have gone on to be successful in the nursing field.”

With their new white coats freshly donned, the students then recited an oath adopted from the American Nurses Association code of ethics, underscoring their commitment to their profession and all the difficulties, responsibilities, and privileges that come alongside it.

“I was really excited to share the moment with my family who drove down an hour to see me tonight. It was especially exciting for my mother who is a nurse,” says Aggarao.

Kayla Tayor ’22 shared the sentiment, adding her appreciation of the support and encouragement from the nursing faculty in attendance. “It was exciting to be officially welcomed into the nursing department, especially since it was by the dean and the professors we have now,” she says.

This event was made possible by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and contributions from the TCNJ Alumni Association.

— Julia Meehan ’22