Simpson University Pinning Ceremony Honors 29 Nursing Students

For Immediate Release


2017 Nursing Pinning

2017 Nursing Pinning

REDDING, Calif. - A special ceremony to honor Simpson University’s newest four-year nursing graduates also included a special tribute to a former classmate diagnosed with ALS.

The 29 students in the fifth cohort to graduate from the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing received their nursing pins from family and friends during the 6 p.m. event in the James M. Grant Student Life Center.

The pins feature a Bible, cross and lamp, the latter symbolic of Florence Nightingale’s work as she cared for the wounded in the 1800 and 1900s. “Your mission is now three in one,” nursing instructor Connie Echols told the graduates. “It is to care…to advocate…and to lead.”

The keynote speaker was Sr. Brenda O’Keeffe, vice president for mission integration at Mercy Medical Center in Redding; the student speaker was Sean Smith, who shared the challenges of five semesters in the rigorous program and thanked the professors, staff, clinical supervisors, family and friends who supported the students.

2017 Nursing Class Gift

2017 Nursing Class Gift

The class gift—presented by Justin King and Matthew Dahl—was a glass-topped table designed with the class logo. The gift was dedicated to Scott Mathews, who began the nursing program with the other graduates but had to stop when he received a diagnosis of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Mathews served in the U.S. Army from 1979 to 1993 and is a Desert Storm veteran. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes ALS as a service-connected disease, with military veterans approximately twice as likely to develop it than the general public.

Mathews started a Facebook page for the class of 2017 to discuss assignments and offer each other support and suggested they create a class logo. King designed one that includes a hawk (for Simpson Red Hawks) holding a stethoscope.

“We deeply appreciate the dedication and sacrifices he has made for our country,” Dahl said. Mathews attended the ceremony and sat in the front row.

Nursing professors commended the graduates for their hard work and told them the ceremony would be a highlight in their nursing journey. Echols shared that when she graduated with her nursing degree, her then-3-year-old daughter joined her on stage for her pinning ceremony.

“Eighteen years later, on this very stage, I presented her with her nursing pin,” Echols said. “These are moments in life you will always treasure.”

Simpson University started a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program in 2011, four years after the launch of a 16-month RN-BSN Track program for registered nurses. The Betty M. Dean School of Nursing, under Dean Kristie Stephens, encompasses both programs. The School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

This year’s graduation brings the total of four-year nursing graduates from Simpson University to 138.

Simpson University partners with multiple North State healthcare agencies, and students do clinical rotations at many of these locations, including Mercy and Shasta Regional medical centers, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Red Bluff, Restpadd, public and mental health facilities in Shasta and Tehama counties, and long-term care agencies.

North State hospitals also utilize the university’s Science and Nursing Building, which contains state-of-the-art simulation labs, for training for their nurses.

Learn more about the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing at


Simpson University nursing graduate Justin King stands by former classmate Scott Mathews at an April 27 nursing pinning ceremony. The class dedicated its gift -- a glass-topped table designed with a special logo (foreground) -- to Mathews, a U.S. Army veteran who has been diagnosed with ALS. / Photo courtesy Justin King


Simpson University, established in 1921, is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate, and teaching credential programs. The university celebrated its 25th year in Redding and the completion of a Science and Nursing Center in 2014. Academic programs include ASPIRE, a degree-completion program geared toward working adults with both on-campus and online course offerings, including degrees in psychology and organizational leadership. For information about the university, or to arrange a campus visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit


Contact: SU Public Relations
(530) 226-4737