December 2021

Nursing Grads Set Out to Transform Health Care

December 27, 2021    |  

On Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) hosted three in-person graduation ceremonies, its first in-person degree conferrals since December 2019, when UMSON joined the world in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Summer and fall 2021 graduates from Baltimore and the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) were honored at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively, and 2020 and spring 2021 graduates were recognized at a 4 p.m. ceremony.

University of Maryland School of Nursing students celebrate their graduation.

University of Maryland School of Nursing students celebrate their graduation.

“We are truly honored to host an in-person ceremony after two years,” said Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, the Bill and Joanne Conway Dean of the School of Nursing, as she welcomed the graduates and saluted those who served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It is a reminder that nursing does not have the luxury to pick and choose its moments of service, but rather, it must always be ready to respond.”

During the summer and fall 2021 graduation ceremonies held at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre, 292 degrees and certificates were conferred by University of Maryland, Baltimore President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS. This included 195 Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees, 82 master’s degrees, four Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees, seven PhD degrees, and four certificates. During the 4 p.m. ceremony, 30 alumni from the 2020 and spring 2021 graduating classes were in attendance to be recognized. (View photo gallery.)

Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, BSN ’07, NEA-BC, CENP, CPHQ, CNE, FACHE, assistant professor and director, Master of Health Administration Program at the University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health, served as the keynote speaker.

“We are University of Maryland nurses, a great honor, but one that comes with tremendous responsibility,” Davis said. “At a time when our health care systems have been challenged beyond our wildest imaginations, when so many have lost faith in public health, who better than us to nurse America and the rest of the world back to health? Prepared at one of the leading schools of nursing in the world, we are uniquely prepared to do this work.

“To the 2021 graduates of the University of Maryland School of Nursing, I challenge you to be bold, fearless, transformational leaders who dream big and shine brilliantly — especially in the places where the shadows of injustice may have otherwise been left unexposed — because you each individually hold the power to inspire change, even in the presence of adversity. Together as Maryland nurses, we will light the paths to the transformation of health and health care for our communities, the nation, and the world.”

During the ceremony, DAISY Awards for Extraordinary Nursing Students were awarded to Robyn James Minchik, a graduate of the BSN program at USG, and Sean Patrick Carmody, a graduate of the Clinical Nurse Leader master’s option in Baltimore. 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.

The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Faculty was presented to Regina Phillips, PhD, RN, CNE, 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 at the graduate level to Carol R. Wade, DNP ’14, MS ’00, BSN ’97, RN, CRNP, who works at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) Heart and Vascular Center, and at the undergraduate level to Alexandra Huntress-Reeve, BSN ’20, RN, who works in UMMC’s pediatric intensive care unit.

“Although the chapter in our educational book has ended, another one starts as we venture on to make our mark amongst the ranks of nursing professionals,” student speaker Nneka Inez Mitchell, BSN graduate, said to her fellow graduates during the ceremony for Baltimore graduates. “As we all move forward, I implore you to be a beacon of light that reflects positively on the nursing profession, and always remember the power of ‘we.’ ”

A few hours later, during the USG ceremony, student speaker Alice Tarh Mformen, BSN graduate, said, “As Maryland nurses, we are ready. The value of education is incredible. Our skills are top-notch. We got this, friends.”

Kirschling closed the ceremony by congratulating the graduates: “We launch you into the world with a mission to do good, endowed with the necessary expertise. We wish you success. Make no mistake: You hold our futures in your hands.”