Icy conditions in Keene, Texas, melted just in time for Southwestern Adventist University’s Junior Nursing Students’ Dedication. It was held on Sabbath afternoon, February 4, 2023, at the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church. Family and friends came to show their support as the class members marched down the aisle and took a seat on stage. Classmates gave opening prayer, special music, and introduced their speaker, Chief Nursing Officer for Kettering Health Miamisburg, Stephen O’Neal.
Southwestern Adventist University’s Chair of the Department of Nursing, Professor Kerrie Kimbrow, explained why the ceremony takes place at this point in the students’ academic journey “By the junior year, students have a very good understanding of the profession and healing ministry they are dedicating themselves to,” she said. “They have already completed foundational nursing courses and spent significant time in the hospital taking care of patients.”
Southwestern Adventist University’s Department of Nursing is grateful for their generous partnerships with Kettering Health and AdventHealth, “prestigious healthcare institutions across the nation,” pointed out Dr. Kimbrow. “For Kettering to send their speaker for this occasion and provide stethoscopes for all the students shows a level of support that is just amazing,” she said.
O’Neal opened his remarks talking about tools and segued into talking about a nurse’s most important tool—not a stethoscope, but love. “Your truest and greatest gift is your heart,” he shared with students. “As you encounter and take care of other humans, the most important things you can do are love them, accept them for where they are, treat them as your most prized possession, and give them yourself.”
After the address, Gideon’s International presented Bibles to the nursing students, a resource to encourage themselves and their patients. After accepting their pocket-size New Testament, they walked across the stage and accepted O’Neal’s gift on behalf of Kettering Health, a new stethoscope. Then it was the students’ turn to give a gift, a rose, to their biggest supporters in the audience.
After the class recited the Nightingale Pledge, Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) Religion Professor Joaquim Azevedo, father of class member Rebekah Azevedo, took the stage. He challenged the class to make their career their ministry and then prayed a prayer of dedication over them.
“The nursing dedication ceremony symbolizes a turning point in the educational journey for our students,” said SWAU President Ana Patterson. “As they embark on the final year of their education, we hope that they feel the support of their community and a renewed commitment to the nursing profession.”