By NewsLine Staff

St. Johns River State College recently held a pinning ceremony to recognize the Associate in Science in Nursing students. The pinning ceremony symbolizes the “rite of passage into the nursing profession,” said Anna Lebesch, Ed.D., St. Johns River State’s vice president for workforce development and Orange Park campus executive director. The pin is a reminder to the 35 graduates of their purpose to serve the sick and infirmed.

Students were pinned by family members. Lebesch described the pinning ceremony as the symbol of the care and devotion nurses provide. The ceremony is also a continued tradition of Florence Nightingale’s extended honor to her most outstanding nurses.

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Billie Blake, RN, MSN, BSN, Ed.D., CNE, St. Johns River State’s retiring associate dean of nursing and director of the bachelor of science in nursing program, addressed the graduates as the guest speaker. Blake joined the school’s nursing faculty in 2003 and has served as the associate dean of nursing for the past seven years.

During the ceremony, Gregory Francois of St. Johns County received the Florence Nightingale Award for special achievement throughout the two-year program.

Students from St. Johns County included: Alexander Bellicini, Teresa Borzilleri, Rachel Clifton, Gregory Francois, Brandee Heflin, Amanie Kahok, Julie Natto, Amber Parson, Lauren Quinn, Kaitlin Rafay and Tatiana Vasquez.


St. Johns River State’s nursing program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. Classes are offered in Palatka and Orange Park.  Applications for the Spring 2017 nursing classes on the Orange Park campus will be accepted Sept. 1 – 30. Specific prerequisites and requirements apply and must be completed prior to the first day of the application period.

St. Johns River State offers additional health programs such as respiratory care, nursing assistant, health information management and radiologic technology. For more information on degree and certificate programs in the health field, call (386) 312-4176.

Photo courtesy St. Johns River State College

In addition to the ceremony, select students received awards for special achievement throughout the two-year program. Clay County resident Carly Johnston received the Academic Excellence Award and St. Johns County resident Gregory Francois was honored with the Florence Nightingale Award.

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