Pinning Elevates Father-Daughter Relationship

Dave and Carly Rittenhouse

Dave Rittenhouse, CRNA, pinned his daughter, Carly, during the traditional ceremony before her commencement.

By: Keith Stichtenoth

There’s an undeniably special bond between a father and his daughter. For Dave and Carly Rittenhouse, that bond has become stronger, thanks to UC’s College of Nursing and the culmination of Carly’s time in the Nursing program.

It all started with Dave’s early schooling and work in the nursing profession in the Dayton area, then earning a master’s degree in UC’s nurse anesthesia program in 1993, and beginning his career as a CRNA with Kettering Anesthesia Associates, where he has been for 23 years. Not too surprisingly, toy stethoscopes, syringes and blood pressure cuffs littered the floor of his two daughters’ playroom. Even so, oldest daughter Carly dreamed of a career in dance or law until visiting her dad at "his office."

"Carly remembers when her mother would bring the girls to the hospital," Dave recalled. "They loved to go up to the Mother/Baby Unit and peer through the window at the newborns. Apparently this is where her desire to work with and care for neonates was born."

So Carly eventually followed her father into the College of Nursing, building an unforgettable and invaluable foundation for her future — receiving a great education while in UC's Honors Program, working in village clinics in Tanzania, and comparing notes with her dad along the way.

"My four years at UC were the best years of my life," said Carly, who received her degree in late April. "I learned and experienced as much as I possibly could have and accomplished everything I set out to do. I grew so much as a person and especially as a nurse."

Carly had always looked up to her father, but feels her respect and admiration for him — and their personal connection — grew enormously once she enrolled at UC. They talked frequently about nursing and how different it was for Carly than it had been for students 25 years earlier.

"The general courses and basic curriculums were very similar," Dave said, "but the resources available today, from the simulation lab to the iPad to the abundance of clinical sites, is beyond compare."

"He always believed in me, and that always made me believe in myself," Carly said. "We have talked about aspirations for much longer than my four years in college, but he always encouraged me to do what made me happy. And it was an added comfort being a legacy nursing student. If my dad could do it, so could I — and I did."

Fittingly, as the first leg of Carly’s nursing journey came to an end, her father added to the emotional finale by pinning her in the traditional ceremony held the evening before Commencement.

"Of all the events that took place in my daughter’s journey at UC, the pinning ceremony was undoubtedly the highlight for me," Dave said. "Honestly, when she asked me to personally pin her, I had no idea it would be as emotionally charged for me as it was. I don’t know if it was the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony, the individuals speaking about the culmination of their journeys to become UC nursing graduates, or if my red-and-black tie was too tight, but I still get a little choked up thinking about that night."

"When he pinned me, he said, 'Welcome to the club, babe,'" Carly said.

Being in a 'club' as distinguished as the nursing profession with a man as amazing as my father? There are no words to describe how much that means to me."
Carly Rittenhouse, '17

Next for Carly is the NCLEX, then transitioning to her new job as a labor and delivery nurse at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Edgewood, Ky. That’s right — it's back to the newborns for this legacy nurse, which makes her dad very happy.

"It was such an honor to be part of her rite of passage," said Dave of his daughter’s pinning. "Carly is beautiful, intelligent, funny, and now a professional nurse ... with a job! I am one proud Papa!"