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First group of Towson nursing students at USM-Hagerstown to graduate

May 16, 2008

The first group of students to complete Towson University's nursing program at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown is graduating this year.

The 13 students held a celebration barbecue Tuesday in the USM-H courtyard. After the barbecue, the uniforms that the students wore during their clinical training were hung on the front of the USM-H building on West Washington Street. The students decorated their shirts with symbols indicating the area of nursing in which they will be practicing.

The hanging of the nursing uniforms is a tradition at Towson and at other nursing schools. It celebrates the academic journey and the accomplishments the students have achieved.

USM-H Executive Director C. David Warner III said he considered it an honor to climb a 20-foot ladder and attach one side of the clothesline holding the uniforms to a hook on the building. Because the east side of the building was not easily or safely accessible by ladder, the City of Hagerstown provided a bucket truck and employees to affix the other end of the line to the building.

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The nursing students, joined by passers-by, watched and cheered as the clothesline was pulled taut, displaying the decorated uniforms.

It is believed that the tradition of hanging the uniforms was born out of a strong dislike for the nursing school uniforms that students wore in the 1960s, according to information provided by USM-H. Back then, Johns Hopkins nursing graduates would hang their nursing shoes, which were an unattractive brown and uncomfortable to wear, on fences outside of the school.

The tradition progressed into the 1970s, when students would display their uniforms because it was the last time they would wear their clinical uniforms and soon would be allowed, upon graduation, to wear their "whites."

Nursing uniforms since have improved in style, and the tradition is carried on to declare success in completing the intensive nursing program.

Towson has carried on the tradition since its first graduating class in 1976.

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