YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State University’s school of nursing held its annual Nursing Medallion Ceremony on Thursday. It was a chance to honor the graduating nurses who are about to be on the front lines.

“We’re really proud of them, they plotted along,” said Nancy Wagner, chair of YSU’s nursing department.

Over 80 nursing students showed up to receive their medallion that gets handed out every year to graduating seniors.

“Their medallion is a representation of moving from student to professional,” Wagner said.

It’s a ceremony they hold every year, but this year, everyone was in their cars, packed into a parking lot across from Stambaugh Stadium.

They listened to speeches given at the front of the parking lot, then drove around to receive their medallions.

“So this is an honor to have the medallion ceremony and like I said, especially since we can’t get together and they made it possible for us, it’s beyond amazing,” said graduate Alison Heydle.

But with the coronavirus pandemic, these nurses are going into a difficult situation.

“So it is kind of scary starting off a career like this. I’m sure it is for all of us but we’ll handle it and we will take it one day at a time,” said graduate Valerie Kinsey.

“It’s crazy what’s going on but I mean, we’re all in this together and we just got to get through it,” Heydle said.

Kinsey is already a nurse’s aid. She and her family tested positive for COVID-19. They all experienced what it was like and the struggle that comes with it, but they managed to get through it.

“We’re just one, big, happy COVID family but we are all upstanding and getting through it,” Kinsey said.

Which could help a lot when dealing with coronavirus patients.

“But how I see it affect my family and my residents, who are basically family to me, it’s been hard to experience that. We’ve lost so many but it will help me in the future, for sure,” Kinsey said.