Lucy Marion, who died in April 2023, was the dean emerita of the Augusta University College of Nursing. An award established to honor her legacy will provide white coats for nursing students. Photo courtesy Augusta University
Lucy Marion, who died in April 2023, was the dean emerita of the Augusta University College of Nursing. An award established to honor her legacy will provide white coats for nursing students. Photo courtesy Augusta University

Fund to provide white coats for Augusta University nursing students

 An award established to honor the legacy of Augusta University College of Nursing Dean Emerita Lucy Marion, who died in April 2023, will cover the costs of white coats for all incoming Bachelor of Science in Nursing students.

The White Coat Ceremony, introduced to the college by Marion shortly after she was appointed dean, is a rite of passage for prelicensure nursing students and other health care professionals, symbolizing humanism and compassion, according to a news release from Augusta University.

Marion is remembered for being a nursing pioneer with more than 50 years of experience as a leader, educator, researcher and advocate, and it was during the reception to unveil her official portrait that 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 release said.

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 in the news release. “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.”

“The new Ever Onward Award Fund is definitely what this program has been missing,” Harper said. “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.

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.

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