This article was first seen in The Beat February 2019 (Volume 2, Issue 3), Concordia University Ann Arbor School of Nursing Newsletter.

December 9 was a very full day. It started with an induction for a number of students into Sigma Theta Tau International, the nursing honor society. They learned about the goals and mission of the organization and recited the pledge of membership. It was a proud moment for me as we celebrated a high level of grade achievement for these students.

Next on the agenda, a delicious lunch buffet was catered by our very own Sodexo. It was wonderful to see so many family and friends in attendance to support the graduates. Every inch of the North Building Library was filled with beautifully decorated tables covered with evergreen, pine cones and candle décor. Pastor Ryan Peterson, the Campus Pastor, gave the welcome and opening prayer. Nearly 300 people came to be with our graduates, including President Ferry, Vice- President Curt Gielow, Provost William Cario, and a number of Concordia Board members.

I spoke to the graduates and did some reminiscing with them as we revisited their nursing orientation two and a half years ago. Back then I had asked them to “imagine” a number of things that I believed would happen in their future at Concordia. I asked the students to imagine things such as practicing their nursing assessment skills on their classmates who were now their closest friends, nailing a challenging simulation, amazing their preceptors with their ability to manage multiple patients, traveling globally to help improve health in faraway communities, and graduating as BSN nurses who serve God and others with compassionate and excellence who are sought after by area healthcare agencies. I reminded them of these imagined scenarios and shared numerous examples of how each of these things have become a reality. It was heartwarming to see them remembering and realizing all that had happened. God is good!

Shalena Blocker and Hannah Phillips both gave inspiring and humorous speeches that reminded us all of the fun, yet stressful ride the last two and a half years has been.

The nursing team created graduate awards based on the four value words on our cornerstone wall, which is found just inside the simulation center. These values of service, excellence, compassion, and integrity, are preeminent in our program. We expect all of our students and graduates to emulate these values in their lives and as they care for their patients. An additional award, The Nightingale Award, was created as a tribute to Florence Nightingale who viewed nursing as her calling from God. It is meant to highlight a graduate who exemplifies this type of character. The award recipients did not know they were receiving the award until their names were called. I think all the winners were surprised.

The last part of the event at the North building was the pinning ceremony. Each student was given the opportunity to select a person to pin them. Family, nursing team members, mentors, and preceptors were among those who pinned the graduates. As the pinning took place, Kathleen Sheehan read words of thanks from the graduates to the selected pinner. There were hugs and handshakes on stage amidst photographs and applause.

Once the pinning ceremony was over, Pastor Randy Duncan gave a closing blessing and prayer before dismissing everyone to main campus for the official graduation ceremony in the chapel. Nursing graduate Aubrey Alfano gave the student speech during the service. Aubrey highlighted the challenges she experienced as a nursing student and she explained how simulation helped to shape her as a nurse and how the Concordia experience shaped her as a person.

After all of the graduates received their diplomas, I saw families come together to celebrate the students’ hard work. I was included in numerous pictures, some planned and others spontaneous. I was thrilled to experience this day with our students and their families. Since graduation day, I have heard of numerous students already procuring jobs at a number of health care agencies around Southeast Michigan. These graduates and those to follow will put Concordia on the map as a strong and effective nursing program.

In the two and a half years they spent in nursing school, our graduates showed their mettle as students, as friends, and as aspiring nurses. The CUAA nursing class of 2018 gave their studies, clinical practice, and volunteer spirit their all, even when it meant giving up free time and sleep. With relentless good nature, they personified the integrity, compassion, and excellence
that is expected in all who are to serve as Concordia nurses.

Throughout this article, I’ve used words like “thrilled”, “proud”, and “celebrate”. Those words are heartfelt, as I know that those we imagined as the best prepared for their mission of service to
Christ in the Church and in the world have proven to be our graduates.

  • Written by Dean Cindy Fenske, DNP, RN, CNE

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