Image of BSN students reading the pledge at whie coat ceremony
Photo by David Russell Photography LLC.

Ever Onward Award Fund promises white coats for BSN students

The White Coat Ceremony is a rite of passage for prelicensure nursing students, symbolizing humanism and compassion.

College of Nursing Dean Emerita Lucy Marion, PhD, who passed away in April of 2023, introduced the White Coat Ceremony to the college shortly after becoming dean, and now, through an award established to honor the legacy of Marion, CON will be able to purchase white coats for all incoming Bachelor of Science in Nursing students.

A woman in a health care white coat with a logo for Augusta University stands at a podium and speaks to a large group of people.
The late College of Nursing Dean Emerita Lucy Marion, PhD

Marion is remembered for being a nursing pioneer with more than 50 years of experience as a leader, educator, researcher and advocate, and, during the reception to unveil her official portrait, the Ever Onward Award Fund was announced.

“There was a group of us who wanted to put this fund together. I had the honor of spearheading it with some other great colleagues, like Dr. Pamela Cromer,” said Allen Edmunds, director of business operations for the Office of the Provost, who worked with Marion in the College of Nursing for 10 years and saw the college grow substantially and excel during that time. “Dr. Marion believed in continuing the educational journey with perpetual learning. She was never afraid to push forward no matter the obstacles ahead. Hence why her catchphrase was always ‘Ever Onward.’”

Beyond sponsoring white coats, the fund will support various nursing student needs such as scrub sets and stethoscopes.

“The donations to Ever Onward provide that much more support to students who are truly pursuing a calling like no other. We are so grateful to our donors for honoring her legacy by contributing to the success of future nurses.”

Beth NeSmith, PhD, interim dean of the College of Nursing

Those who created the Ever Onward Award Fund hope to impact nursing beyond the college by honoring nursing professionals in the community with an annual Ever Onward Award. The new award will be presented to a CSRA nurse who has made major contributions to the community and the nursing profession with the first recipient to be announced at the 2024 ceremony on Aug. 23.

When endowed and fully funded, support will be provided in perpetuity. The fund continues to grow through the contributions and generosity of faculty members, alumni and community donors, ensuring its lasting impact.

“The White Coat ceremony is a huge milestone for those in nursing school,” said 2024 BSN Class President Ashley Harper. “It signifies one, that students are dedicated to their nursing profession, and two, they can begin caring for patients in a clinical setting. I remember how excited I was to receive my white coat and have all my friends and family there to see it.

A man and a woman stand in front of a backdrop and pose for a picture while each holds a corner of a piece of paper.
Augusta University College of Nursing Scholarship Ceremony [David Russell Photography LLC]

“The new Ever Onward Fund is definitely what this program has been missing,” Harper added. “Students are hit with fees from mandatory test-taking software to purchasing scrubs and everything in between. Having the Ever Onward Award Fund would allow students to look forward to this ceremony, instead of worrying about the financial obligations associated with it. I am thrilled to hear about this award fund, and I know it will make a huge impact on the new future nurses entering into this program.”

The CON White Coat Ceremony was founded through a partnership between the Dr. Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in 2014. In front of friends and family, the students recite the nursing pledge, promising to uphold the high values and ethics of the profession. It symbolizes the start of each nurse’s journey.

A large group of people sit in rows on a stage during a special presentation.
BSN students at a recent White Coat Ceremony [David Russell Photography LLC]

At her final White Coat Ceremony as dean, Marion said, “The ceremony has been such a wonderful occasion to have this symbol of moving from pre-nursing student into being a professional nursing student, that it is such a celebration.”

“Dr. Marion was committed to the profession and dedicated to the success of nursing students. The donations to Ever Onward provide that much more support to students who are truly pursuing a calling like no other. We are so grateful to our donors for honoring her legacy by contributing to the success of future nurses,” said Interim Dean Beth NeSmith, PhD.

“Her legacy of courage and the fight for nursing are the same hallmarks that endeared her to us all as she fought the battle of cancer, never giving up or giving in. This stamina and determination taught us so much about the intimacy and value we share as nurses as we walk behind others in their final walk,” said Cromer, DNP, associate professor and APRN clinical coordinator for the College of Nursing.

To those who knew Marion, the fund and award are a fitting tribute to her storied legacy.

“She was a futurist,” said Cromer. “She became a professional icon, champion of nursing and mentor to leagues of nurses statewide and throughout the nation and ‘special friend’ to the university and its many communities.”

“She was our ‘Florence Nightingale’ champion in the community, state and national arena,” said Edmunds. “She was that trailblazer who worked tirelessly to expand the nursing profession and its contributions to society.”

To make a gift online to the Ever Onward Award Fund in memory of College of Nursing Dean Emerita Lucy Marion, PhD, and help provide white coats for AU’s nursing students, or for more information, please email Sarah Akins, associate director of Philanthropy.

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Written by
Nina Siso
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Written by Nina Siso

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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