Last night I attended the RN graduation and enjoyed every minute of it. All the speakers where inspiring–Dean Cindy Collier, Prof. Lisa Harding, and a few students.
Lisa told the students that they should be proud to be a nurse and even more proud to be a BC nurse. She talked about the tradition of excellence that BC represented over 100 years as well as the qualities of the Renegade Knight. And her signature phrase was telling the students that every time they write RN after their name they should remember that it stood for more than a “Registered Nurse” it stood for a “Renegade Nurse”.
Enjoy her speech as much as I did. Here is an excerpt:
Can you believe it? We made it! You made it! Let me start by saying: Welcome to my profession. To be a nurse is a great honor. This evening represents so many accomplishments. You did it! There have been so many events and occasions that we have experienced during your time here at BC. We have celebrated together and we have grieved together. We have had ups and downs. But you did it! This year is a year of celebration. First, because you made it, but also, because we, Bakersfield College are celebrating 100 years!
As you know, David and I traveled to Romania last May. Both our lives have been changed by that event, but I want to share a quick story about a boy named Vali.
Vali is somewhere between 15-17 years old, he has spent his whole live living in an orphanage. Vali has a mild form of cerebral palsy. He has his intellect, but his muscles do not want to obey his brains command. For his whole life, Vali is told every day that he has no value. Orphans in Romania have no value at all. They are repeatedly beaten, abused, and if you are an orphan with any kind of disability, you are hidden away so no one will see you. The day I met Vali, I got to walk with him about 1.5 miles to McDonalds Yes, Romania has several McDonalds. Now, I speak no Romanian, and Vali certainly speaks no English and probably very little Romanian-we made quite a pair. My new friend was so excited to get out of the orphanage and see the world. He was fascinated with all the things he saw as we walkeddown the side walk hand in hand towards The golden arches. As we began our journey, I noticed Vali was waving at everything, ants, bugs people, dogs. Everything he encountered got a wave. It was exciting to see the world through Vali’s eyes. As we joyfully walked along to McDonalds, I noticed a woman coming across the street in a hurried manner, she crossed 4 lanes of busy traffic, walked right up to me and looked at Vali and spit on the ground. She was disgusted that we were out in the open with my new friend. I felt all the joy and happiness just melt right out of Vali. I was so angry. Well, we managed to get to McDonalds and I saw the joy of a cheeseburger in a new way. As we walked back, Vali had a noticeably slower pace, although he continued to soak in his surroundings, He knew we were headed back to the orphanage. As we neared the orphanage Vali looked up into one of the block apartments near his “home” several stories high. We noticed a woman looking out a window. I was focused on trying to distract Vali so that we did not have another “uncomfortable encounter” when all of a sudden, the woman in the window, blew him a kiss! I could feel the joy fill his body and it came right through to my hand as I was holding his.- That day, and that sweet woman, unknowingly gave hope to my friend, she used a simple gesture to acknowledge him and make him feel that he was valued.
But lets get back to why we are here tonight. Now that you have completed this program, you become a part of a distinguished family. This family has had 100 years of tradition. You will soon wear the pin of distinction. You will join those before you who have graduated from Bakersfield College. So, what does that mean? To be a part of this great program, it means more than just being able to write the initials RN after your name.
We are: BC , we are the Bakersfield College Renegades. As I began to explore our last 100 years, I learned that our mascot came with a bit of controversy. When I first explored our background I thought to myself “what is a Renegade? Sounding like a bit of a rebel, I wondered, how we could promote that and how could I embrace it? And then I researched a little more. One definition said: Reject tradition: that is a renegade. The woman in the window…she is a renegade.
What would Vali say a Renegade was and would he approve of me promoting a bunch of Renegades?
YES, I think he would, in fact, I know he would. He would expect nothing less. You see, a renegade expresses independence and individuality. To be known as “Bears or Vikings” or any other ridiculous name would be to be known as one among many, but our title is our own.
When you think of a Renegade, what image comes to mind? At Bakersfield College- our image is that of a knight. A Knight has a code to live by. This code of chivalry is much like the code of a nurse.
Like the medieval knight, In nursing, we have armor. Most of the time, the casual observer cannot see it. Like a knight we come in to the battle armed and ready. We too, bear armor…….most of you will never see it-Our armor is used to protect others and not ourselves. We are armed with Knowledge, Courage, Justice, Mercy, Generosity, Faith, Nobility and Hope.
Each of these concepts is important in itself, and every one of these virtues is an admirable quality, but when all of them blend together in one person, we discover the value, and power, of Nursing today.
Now we turn to our logo: The Renegade Knight with a black, crestless shield. During the Crusades of the Middle Ages, the legendary Black Knight typified courage and defiance. He stood alone and was feared by all. So we have taken him as our emblem and made the Renegade of B.C. a Renegade Knight—whose shield without crest or device indicates our servitude to no man. Independent and rugged, the Renegades of the stage and the gridiron stand alone and defiant.
What does Vali think about all this? If we asked him, what would he say?
He would tell us not to wear your armor out in the open, keep it in your heart and on your mind. Be who you are meant to be. Be true to yourself, reject tradition set the standard even higher and wave out the window.
You are now a BC Renegade nurse; you will soon sign your name RN. Many do not know the true meaning, but now we do. As you sign your name followed by RN remember the qualities: