Ceremonial traditions offer emotional and physical connections to our past experiences and achievements. Some of these serve as transitional “objects” as we move forward taking on more challenges. These symbols provide comfort and remind us that we can be successful. The pins received at graduation from nursing schools and university programs are examples of transitional objects. They represent all that the graduates have earned and achieved during their training—they wear it with pride and fond remembrance.
The pin that is currently presented to the nursing students is a likeness of the Johns Hopkins University official seal. The Latin words contained in the seal read, “the truth will set you free;” the words “School of Nursing” wrap around the lower end of the seal.
The Maltese cross pin is the alumni pin and can be purchased by members of the Johns Hopkins Nurses’ Alumni Association. The Maltese cross was selected in 1892 and contains the eight points that symbolize the eight beatitudes of spiritual joy, freedom from malice, repentance of sin, humility, justice, mercy, purity, and patience under wrong.
Over the past several years the school has purchased the university nursing pin for graduates and has either provided an opportunity for a “pinning” ceremony or given them out at the time of the graduation ceremony—all based on available resources and time. This year it was decided that the school would no longer give out the university nursing pins. The students could purchase them individually if they wanted. The alumni association board of directors unanimously voted to continue the tradition of the nursing pin and to purchase them for the current and future graduating classes. The board saw this as an opportunity to preserve a tradition as well as a way to encourage future alumni to join the association—by showing them that their dues are well spent on maintaining this emotional and irreplaceable symbol of school loyalty and pride.
These pins are rich symbols that remind us as alumni of all that we assert with our motto Vigilando (ever watchful). As your association, we hope to be watchful in defending our rich traditions in the spirit with which we care for our patients and others. By paying dues annually, you can help to keep this promise between future students and alumni—such a small price to pay for such rich rewards.