Skip to College News & Media site navigationSkip to main content

Vital Signs of Success: Ramapo Graduates Largest Nursing Class

Ramapo College holds pinning ceremony and graduates 122 students into the nursing profession, positioned to repeat the 100% exam pass rate of 2023

by Liz Mendicino ’26*

The 116 Bachelor of Science in Nursing students in the Ramapo College Class of 2024 started the college path online, but crossed the stage in the standing room only Sharp Theater in front of each other and loved ones to receive their nursing pins at the 2024 Pinning Ceremony on May 23. Six days later, they made history as the largest class of BSN nursing students to graduate from Ramapo College, a total of 122 graduates in 2024, which includes students in the RN-to-BSN program

Nursing students capture their joy in a pre-ceremony selfie

Ceremony speakers included Assistant Dean of Nursing Dr. Kathy Burke, President Cindy Jebb, Provost Michael Middleton, and the keynote speaker, Dr. Charles Vannoy, who is the Chief Nursing Officer at The Valley Hospital. All expressed pride in the students’ accomplishments and gratefulness for choosing the nursing profession.

Assistant Dean of Nursing and Program Director Dr. Kathleen Burke addresses the students and audience

“I’m very proud of them, and I’m very proud that they’re going to be our colleagues for the rest of their lives,” said Dr. Burke. “Nursing is unlike a lot of the other majors that the college offers. We get to work side-by-side with the students throughout their time in the program.”



The students were called one by one by nursing faculty Dr. Joan Richards and Dr. Julia Fitzgerald as Dr. Burke presented each student with a pin. As they crossed the stage, loud cheers arose not just from the audience, but from classmates on the stage. “I’m feeling so honored and super amazed to stand around all my peers, and just see all of the amazing things that they’re going to be doing,” said Anna Kozan ’24, who is Ramapo College’s first Fulbright student research winner. “It makes me so proud and it just gives me hope for the world, to have all these nurses who just want to care for people.”

Each student was presented with a pin, a tradition that dates back to the 1860s when Florence Nightingale was awarded the Red Cross of St. George in recognition for her service during the Crimean War. The pin signifies that students completed their nursing education and are ready to enter the nursing profession. The students, as well as all nurses present in the audience, then stood to take the Nightingale Oath, pledging their service to the high ideals of the nursing profession.

“I feel like it’s easier to go through something hard when you’re doing something with people you love.” –Lina Michel ’24

It is not uncommon for Ramapo College nursing students to secure a job before graduating, and Sannia Balgahoom ’24 is just one example. Balgahoom has already accepted a position in the Clinical Decision Unit at The Valley Hospital in Paramus. Like her classmates, Balgahoom still needs to sit for and pass the National Council of Licensure Exam (NCLEX), now known as the Next Generation NCLEX (NGN), and feels prepared to do so. “I was definitely nervous coming in, you know, you hear how challenging of a program nursing is,” she shared, adding, “but I feel Ramapo prepared me.” 

The Class of 2024 is set to follow in the footsteps of the unprecedented 106 nursing graduates in 2023 who had a 100% pass rate. Christopher Desamparado ’15 ’24 is ready to take on the exam. “I feel very well prepared to take the NCLEX and succeed in the nursing profession. I’ve talked to a lot of nursing graduates and other nurses in units. They love the Ramapo graduates.”

Chief Nursing Officer Charles Vannoy delivers remarks at the 2024 Ramapo College Nursing Pinning Ceremony

Admission into the nursing program is highly selective due to its impressive and rigorous curriculum as well as its highly regarded reputation in the healthcare field. During his remarks, Dr. Vannoy said nurses can tell immediately if new RNs were educated at Ramapo College. An audience member shared that patients often request Ramapo College nurses to provide care during their time in hospital.

While academics, hands-on learning, and clinical placements play a big part in the success of Ramapo nursing students, the role of community cannot be discounted, as Lina Michel ’24 pointed out. “The good thing about the Ramapo nursing program is that there’s such a sense of community. It’s nice because we have the same professors and classes, so you really get to know everyone on a personal level,” she said, adding, “I feel like it’s easier to go through something hard when you’re doing something with people you love.”

The demand for a nursing degree from Ramapo College continues to grow. “The sustained interest in the program reflects the continued focus on excellence: Excellence in education, excellence in instruction, excellence in support, and excellence in resources,” said Burke. In fact, the nursing community at Ramapo just got a lot bigger, thanks to the first Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) cohort that began on May 30. Ramapo College welcomed 34 nursing students on the fast-track to becoming RNs. They will also make history as the college’s first ABSN class to receive white coats at the upcoming ceremony on June 12.

The inaugural ABSN cohort began the program on May 30.

To learn more about nursing at Ramapo College, visit To view additional photos of the ceremony and a video recap, visit

*Lisa Ambrose contributed to this story, with photography from John LaRosa