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Nursing graduates celebrate and look to the future

Blue caps and gowns fill the foreground as students sit in rows in front of the stage during Convocation.

From formal ceremonies to funny greeting cards, this time of year is filled with celebrations for graduating students. This May, the School of Nursing honored 175 of its own scholars during the bi-annual Convocation ceremony.

Graduating candidates walked across stage and officially received their nursing stole – part of their academic regalia – from their professors. Participants included graduates from the on-campus Pre-License bachelor’s degree program, the online RN-BS Completion program and the Doctor of Nursing Practice in Leadership program.

This year, the School of Nursing shifted to a digital Convocation program. For a detailed look at the order of events, list of graduates and more, visit the program website.

Student speakers encourage and challenge

Lauren Kalember poses with a DNP student and professor for a photo in their regalia.
Lauren Kalember (right) poses for photos prior to the Convocation ceremony.

Each convocation features brief keynote speeches from both an undergraduate and graduate candidate.

Lauren Kalember graduated from the DNP in Leadership program this year and has a passion for equipping nurses through education. She offered six simple challenges for the graduates’ futures: be kind, be curious, be innovative, be champions of health equity, be inclusive and be lifelong learners.

“Let us strive to be resilient, adaptable, empathetic, innovative and culturally-humble nurses,” Kalember said. “Our journey through nursing school has prepared us for all of the challenges ahead, and I have no doubt that each of us will positively impact the lives of both our patients and communities.”

Brynn Sorensen waves to family as the students process during the Convocation ceremony in their regalia.
Brynn Sorensen, pictured here wearing her apricot nursing stole, graduated with her bachelor’s of science in nursing.

Brynn Sorensen also spoke, representing the graduating pre-licensure cohort. She is a mother of four who pursued a nursing career to help empower people with their medical decisions.

Sorensen spoke with gratitude for her cohort members, saying, “You have impressed me with your ambition, dedication, kindness, compassion and willingness to make an old woman feel hip and cool.”

Sorensen also challenged her fellow new nurse graduates to be intentional about making a positive impact on their patients and in the world. “Let your desired legacy drive you throughout your nursing career,” she said.

Snapshot of the ceremony

The ceremony also includes several special recognitions. Two honor an extraordinary nurse faculty and student with a Daisy Award.

The Award for Extraordinary Faculty honors professors for their impact on the future of nursing. It celebrates their distinguished commitment to care and inspirational influence on both students and colleagues. Assistant professor Veronica McDuffee received this semester’s award with glowing nominations from students who look up to her as an excellent professor and bedside nurse.

Layne Anderson stands in his regalia with his wife and two children.
Layne Anderson, pictured here with his family, received the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nursing Student for his work in a clinical placement at Saint Alphonsus’ intensive care unit.

Senior Layne Anderson received the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nursing Student for his exceptional compassionate care while working with a dying patient and their family at Saint Alphonsus.

The school also traditionally recognizes one notable scholarship donor during the ceremony. This year, the school honored the John William Jackson Fund in the Idaho Community Foundation.

Over the past 11 years, nearly 100 scholarships from this fund have been awarded to the College of Health Sciences. Nursing students received over half of these. These scholarships support the education of pre-license nursing students and highlight the importance of being caring, compassionate, and patient-centered.

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