May 17, 2023
Twenty-three students and their families gathered at Cullen Performance Hall at the University of Houston for commencement and pinning ceremonies for the Andy and Barbara Gessner College of Nursing.
“We need to take time to recognize what the students accomplished,” said Kathryn Tart, professor and founding dean of the college. “We, the faculty, are passionate about our profession and are joyous that students trusted our guidance and mentoring to fulfill their dreams of earning the BSN or MSN degree.”
Tart noted the Class of 2023 persevered through the lock-down and online classes brought on by COVID-19.
“We know the unprecedented times we are living in and need to take stock in and hold fast to those who were hardest hit by the pandemic,” she said. “Thank you for this educational nursing journey.”
Hope Reeves, clinical systems educator for HCA Healthcare, served as commencement speaker. She also is president of the UH Nursing Alumni Association.
“Graduates, you have made it. You have persevered and passed each test and did not break. Your life will never be the same,” she said.
Reeves, a 2020 graduate of the college with a master’s in nursing administration, told the group that, as nurses, they are called to serve, and have chosen to help others, which means they must be ready for any nursing challenge.
“As a nurse leader you will learn to become resilient. This will be the foundation of your career. You will use this resiliency to navigate through each season of your career,” she said. “Nurses experience trauma more than any other profession. Being a resilient nurse will be your fuel.”
She conveyed her list of coping skills, and urged the new nurses to develop them at the same rate they develop their professional skills:
- Have a good attitude
- Be coachable
- Be willing to take on challenging roles
- Be helpful
- Be honest and be vulnerable
- Have a soft heart but tough skin
- Exhibit grace at all times
“Now go and be a resilient nurse leader,” she said.
Thanking Reeves, Dean Tart announced a scholarship was created in Reeves name to be given to a student next year.
During the ceremony, the college announced several awards of excellence:
- Trisha J. Smith, Outstanding Graduate Student
- Sarah Bereket, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for Clinical Excellence
- Brooke Elizabeth Cone, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for Academic Excellence
- Rashita Shah, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for Leadership
- Maria I. Vidal, Most Improved Undergraduate Student for Leadership
- Emery White, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for Advocacy
The undergraduate students with accolades also received a financial award generously donated by Andy and Barbara Gessner.
In addition to their diplomas, the new graduates received the traditional nursing pin from the University of Houston and “Lamp of Learning,” and recited the Florence Nightingale Pledge.
The graduates now are part of the 1,612 UH nursing alumni as of this year.