Pinning ceremony stirs emotion in parents, students

September 01, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

Beth Ruiter (left) places a pin on her daughter Sydney at this year’s New Student Commissioning.

Story by Ashlee Larrison
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau

“Congratulations! Welcome to the rest of your life. Now you got to just go and do it. It’s all you, son.”

Through a simple Grand Canyon University pin, Brandon Louis had symbolically passed the mantle to his son, also named Brandon, a freshman majoring in computer science.

Tiffany and Brandon Louis (from left in purple and gray shirts) enjoy GCU’s Welcome Session after giving their son Brandon his GCU pin.

As a former serviceman, the elder Brandon was no stranger to the significance of receiving a pin. Traditionally, when someone moves up in rank in the military, they receive a pin for their new rank. To have that moment with his son at the New Student Commissioning, part of the Welcome Session, made it even more meaningful.

“Me pinning him going to college, it’s a similarity to me,” he said. “I did like it, and I enjoyed getting to do that.”

It was a sight that left Tiffany Louis feeling extra sentimental.

“I think it gave him a sense of importance,” Mom said of her son. “It let him know that we’re standing by him and just want him to go forth and do what he has to do to be successful.”

That was a sentiment held by many family members and friends of new students. Toward the end of each session, parents were instructed to place on their student’s shirt a pin they were given earlier.

“The idea behind it was to build more meaning into the new student orientation experience,” said Charity Norman, Director of Welcome Programs. “That way it’s not just an information exchange for students, so that they could learn more things, but so that it would actually feel significant in passing from high school to college. And the family could be involved in that as well.”

For many parents, it did just that.

“The pinning ceremony was absolutely amazing,” said Zulema Mesa, who was there with her husband to pin their twin daughters, Isabella and Angelina. “For me, it felt like something that comes four years before graduation but is just as important.”

Beth, Sydney and Brad Ruiter (from left) enjoyed Tuesday’s Welcome Session together.

Isabella is majoring in mechanical engineering, and Angelina is entering the University’s ROTC program while pursuing a degree in forensic science.

“It was a really strong moment for me as a parent,” she said. “Since we have twins, I had to do one while their dad did the other, and I pinned it on and said, ‘I’m so proud of you.’

“I even saved the little card because I want to remember this.”

Besides being emotional, the experience also was an opportunity for parents to put their trust in the University to care for their child.

Beth and Brad Ruiter interpreted the occasion as a symbolic gesture of trust as they placed the pin on their daughter Sydney’s shirt.

“It was really meaningful for our family to be part of that process,” Brad said. “Being able to entrust the University like, ‘Here’s our daughter. We’re handing her over,’ and having her be part of that process was really cool.”

Courtlynn Loscher (third from right) and her parents, Melissa and Chris, enjoyed some final moments together as a family before the parents made their way back home to California.

The Ruiters are from Michigan, and feeling comfortable with the idea of their eldest daughter, a junior transfer student majoring in media design, living on the other side of the country was a major priority for them.

Right off the bat, GCU did not disappoint.

“Everyone yesterday moving in was very helpful and welcoming,” Beth said. “It just felt really comfortable.”

For Chris and Melissa Loscher, having that moment with their daughter Courtlynn was a final goodbye before the parents began their trip back home to Northern California.

“I feel like it completed our trip here,” Chris said. “It was a good finale to such a life-changing event.”

They went home with one overpowering emotion.

“This orientation has helped us feel at peace,” Melissa said.

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: Experiencing the sights, sounds of Welcome Week

GCU Today: Initiative welcomes parents into the ‘Lope familia’

GCU Today: Welcome Week is here, and the Move-In is easy

GCU Today: Life leaders help students feel at home on campus

GCU Today: GCU welcomes largest incoming class in history

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