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Nurse Receives Impromptu Graduation Ceremony at SF Vaccination Site


There’s nothing like finally earning your nursing degree after years of studying and preparation. The pandemic has robbed millions of students of a proper graduation ceremony, and celebrating over Zoom just isn’t the same. That was the case for Serina Abu Arafeh, who just graduated with her BSN. 

Luckily, her colleagues were on hand to help her celebrate this momentous achievement.

Getting Her Degree

Abu Arafeh started pursuing a degree in nursing nearly 10 years ago. She was married and had her first child by the age of 18. Soon, she had two more kids on the way. For the next several years, she had to juggle raising three kids and studying for her degree at a local community college.

“Pick up the kids, cook dinner, study…it was a lot of long nights and early mornings,” Abu Arafeh said.

She was about to apply for her first nursing position at the start of 2020, but the pandemic threw a wrench in her plans. “I was ready to go, hit the floor running February 16, 2020,” she recalled. “Then March came and COVID came along, and everything was put on hold.”

With few job prospects, she decided to go back to school to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Ohio University. Balancing school and parenting, she also took on a temporary position at the City College of San Francisco COVID-19 vaccinations site.

Assisting the vaccination center helped her prepare for a career in nursing, but she wasn’t prepared for the strong swell of emotion that comes with giving out the shots. “It surprised me,” Abu Arafeh said of people’s reactions. “It’s such an honor to be with them in that moment and see those tears roll down.” 

An Unforgettable Graduation Ceremony

Now, Abu Arafeh is the one getting emotional.

When the time finally came for her to get her degree, she was scheduled to work at the vaccination clinic. The school had planned a virtual graduation ceremony, so Abu Arafeh wasn’t too upset about missing it. However, her colleagues insisted on celebrating her amazing achievement.

When she arrived at the vaccination clinic for work on the day of her graduation, her co-workers formed two rows up and down the parking lot and clapped as she walked by.

“That they wanted to recognize my hardship and they were proud of me…beyond words,” Abu Arafeh said. She can be seen shedding a tear as she reaches the end of the row.

Many aspiring nurses and recent graduates have been signing up for work at vaccination clinics across the country. It gives them a chance to learn from experienced providers without the pressures that come with working in a hospital.

As the pandemic starts to fizzle out, vaccination center workers may be looking for work at a hospital near you. We’re so proud of nurse Abu Arafeh for earning her BSN during this difficult time. We wish her the best of luck as she starts looking for work as a nurse.

Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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