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Texas Children’s CNO Urges New Grads to Prioritize Self-Care, Change Health Care

December 19, 2022

Hundreds crowded the Cullen Performance Hall at the University of Houston for the Fall 2022 Commencement Ceremony and Pinning for the UH College of Nursing.

“You are graduating from a special university that you have transformed during your stay here,” said Kathryn Tart, professor and founding dean of the college. “It’s a university that is your home, your alma mater, your pride and your bragging right.”

Portrait of a Black woman smiling wearing a business jacket.

Jacqueline R. Ward, Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President for Texas Children’s Hospital, served as commencement speaker. Ward, a doctor of nurse practice, registered nurse and nurse executive -board certified, told graduates that choosing nursing was one of the best decisions they’ve made.

“You experienced nursing school during a pandemic,” she said. “You persevered, adapted, partnered, collaborated and focused. You were resilient, and you did it.”

Seventy-six new nurses crossed the stage, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Special student accolades included:

  • Outstanding Academic Student: Kayley Danielle Hoffman 4.0 GPA
  • Outstanding Clinical Student: Sydney Morah Omwoya
  • Outstanding Graduate Student: Katherine Lee Wallender 4.0 GPA
  • 4.0 Graduate Students: Jessica Renee Holsch & Victoria Karen Stanczykiewicz

Ward, who began her career at Texas Children’s Hospital as a graduate nurse in 1993, told the audience they are now on a journey to become leaders. She urged them to connect with a mentor and listen to their guidance. She encouraged them to lend their voices in shared governance opportunities, to listen actively, stay connected, and always to prioritize self-care.

“To be a leader you’ll need to be refreshed and recharged,” she said. “Understand the importance of focusing on who and what you are as a nurse. I urge you to take yourself as a priority.”

The commencement included the traditional pinning ceremony. Students receive a nursing pin, in addition to their diplomas, that is unique to UH. The circular pin has an interlocking UH at the center to represent the student’s journey and partnership with the University of Houston. A red border is inscribed with “University of Houston Nursing” and represents passion, advocacy, love, caring and leadership—the values of UH Nursing. At the bottom of the pin is a banner that indicates the degree (BSN or MSN) that the student has earned.

Additionally, students received a “Lamp of Learning” and recited the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

“Go forth, change the world. And as a nurse, change health care for the betterment of our world,” Ward said.

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