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Commencement 2018: Mentorship, Leadership, and the Future of Nursing

  By Reagan McNameeKing
  Thursday, May 24, 2018

The University of Rochester School of Nursing conferred more than 300 degrees and post-graduate certificates during its commencement ceremony on May 18 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

As the new graduates prepare for the next steps in their careers in an increasingly complex health care landscape, speakers at the ceremony emphasized the value of leadership, perseverance, and mentorship.

“Leaders change things, but leadership is not positional,” said Margaret Grey, DrPH, RN, FAAN. “In other words, you don’t have to be the boss to make change. See a wrong, work to fix it.”

Grey, former dean of the Yale School of Nursing, delivered the commencement address.

“Be passionate about making change,” Grey advised. “We are all responsible for making our health care system work. What’s clear is that it doesn’t work very well now, and who better to fix it than you who are graduating from this prestigious university?”

UR School of Nursing Dean Kathy Rideout, EdD, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, also touched upon the graduates’ responsibilities to serve as leaders in health care throughout their careers.

“As our newest alumni, you will have the opportunity to provide advice, support, and mentorship to the next generation of nurses, health care leaders, and scientists,” said Rideout. “It is not just a nice thing to do - it is the right thing to do, and what we have prepared you to do.”

Each year, commencement features remarks from two graduating students.

Javauni Forrest, who completed the Accelerated Bachelor’s Program for Non-Nurses this year and is going on to enroll in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, delivered the undergraduate remarks for the School of Nursing’s Class of 2018.

As nurses, said Forrest, “we’re in a unique position to profoundly impact the lives of our patients. Use that privilege not only to empower but also embrace your patients for whatever they are.”

Kaydean Harris, a 2018 graduate of the nurse practitioner master’s program, delivered remarks to her classmates.

“From my personal experiences, I can attest that I have encountered the loss of a loved one, poverty, teenage motherhood, racial and gender injustices, and the difficulties of juggling multiple roles as a working wife, mother, and student,” said Harris. “I have learned that challenges are an inevitable reality if we intend on growing and succeeding in life.”

With new degrees in hand, the UR School of Nursing Class of 2018 is prepared to face those challenges ahead in the next chapter.

“By virtue of your achievements, we will look to you for leadership,” Grey said to the new graduates. “I hope you will take up the challenge. And the challenge of leadership has always been to provide coherence, structure, and ultimately meaning, in times of great change.

"In health care, this is one of those times, and we need every one of you to work with us to make our world a better place.”

Grey wrapped up her address to the class of 2018 with a single directive:

“Congratulations. Now go save the world!”

View the full Commencement photo gallery.

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