On Thursday, Dec. 17, the University of Maryland School of Nursing’s (UMSON) Dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, welcomed UMSON’s July and December 2020 graduates, their families and friends, and faculty and staff to UMSON’s first winter virtual conferral of degrees in the School’s 131-year history. The virtual event was attended by more than 700 people.
“It goes without saying that nursing, at its very core, is a profession marked by a deep dedication and commitment to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our patients and our communities,” Kirschling told graduates attending the Zoom ceremony. “However, the events of this year – our national and global struggle to combat COVID-19 – give additional meaning to this dedication. It is a reminder that nursing does not have the opportunity to pick and choose its moments of service, but rather, it must always be at the ready to respond.”
During the ceremony, University of Maryland, Baltimore President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, conferred 179 Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees, 79 master’s degrees, one certificate, two Doctor of Nursing practice degrees, and four PhD degrees.
University System of Maryland Regent William T. Wood offered remarks during the ceremony, and Kirschling recognized the entry-into-practice students who took advantage of UMSON’s early-exit option, an effort to bolster the nursing workforce in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in November and those who have volunteered to serve in other capacities during this time.
“To all of our students: You have successfully persevered during this semester, completed your studies, and earned your degrees, all while balancing multiple demands and stresses. You have my deepest respect and that of all of us for your efforts and hard work,” Kirschling said.
Student speaker Lauren Russell, BSN ’20, a Conway Scholar, shared her experiences as a nursing student during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We did not expect a virtual learning environment, let alone a virtual graduation,” Russell said. “And yet, here we are, standing tall, prepared to be impactful in our designated specialties of choice. Utilizing the knowledge we have garnered and the skill sets that we have sharpened as we have matriculated through this nursing program.”
During the ceremony, DAISY Awards for Extraordinary Nursing Students were awarded to Lisa Eng, a graduate of the BSN program at the Universities at Shady Grove location, and Katherine Couch, a graduate of the Clinical Nurse Leader master’s option. The DAISY awards are given each fall and spring to two graduating entry-into-practice students who demonstrate empathic care and service to patients and their families. And the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Faculty was presented to Amanda Roesch, DNP, MPH, FNP-C, assistant professor, recognizing her commitment to education and her inspirational influence on students. Preceptor Awards, given to preceptors who have facilitated a transformational experience for students with whom they have worked in the clinical setting, were presented to Tania Randell, MS, RN, ACCNS-AC, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Progressive Cardiac Care Unit, at the graduate level and Rhianna Moyer, BSN, RN, CPN, University of Maryland Medical Center, Pediatric Progressive Care Unit, at the undergraduate level.
Kirschling concluded the ceremony with congratulatory remarks for the graduates. “On behalf of the entire University of Maryland School of Nursing, all of us join in celebrating your achievements and we send you forward to serve, knowing that each one of you will contribute to improving the health and well-being of our state, our nation, and our world,” she said.