Nursing Students Feted During Convocation and Pinning Ceremony

Two female CUNY SPS faculty pose with female graduating nursing student at nursing convocation ceremony

The CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) honored nursing graduates from the 2023-24 academic year during the Nursing Convocation and Pinning Ceremony on May 7 at Baruch College.

The in-person event, which celebrated their program completion, was also live-streamed, and featured speeches and congratulatory messages for the 183 nursing students earning their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

These numbers also include the five graduates who were officially inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing for Fall 2023 and Spring 2024, and six Petrie Scholars honor students.

Dr. Margaret Reilly, academic director of the CUNY SPS online nursing programs, officiated the ceremony and delivered opening remarks highlighting the evening’s theme—nurses lead and make the difference.

"As you continue to develop your professional knowledge and skills and to provide the highest level of quality care to your clients and patients, we are so honored to have collaborated with you in your education," Dr. Reilly said. "Throughout history nurses have been leaders in bringing innovation to care that has profoundly changed and made the difference in the experience of health. All of you deserve special recognition for your positive impact that you make on health care and patient care every day."

After Dr. Reilly's remarks, Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Jennifer Sparrow sang the student's praises.

"As a nursing professional, you are a gift to others," Dr. Sparrow told the audience. "You are the beating heart that reverberates across the entire healthcare system. You are a force that will touch the lives not only of individual patients, but also their families and their communities. As nurses, much of your day will be about serving others. Today, I want to take a moment to celebrate you, and to honor all that you have sacrificed to be here."

Next, CUNY SPS Alumna Melissa Hinds, director of the Online Assistance unit, and associate director for health and technology at the Center for Practice Innovations, Division of Behavioral Health Services and Policy Research of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, delivered the keynote address and applauded the future graduates.

"You have chosen a profession where you will share people's most dire and devastating moments, and the most joyful ones," Hinds said. "It is fitting that this convocation is during Nurses Week and the 2024 theme is nurses make the difference. You incredible nurses embody the spirit of compassion and care in every healthcare setting. You have chosen to make a difference. As a fellow CUNY SPS graduate, I'm confident you are well prepared and ready to start the journey."

Hinds also reflected to when she was sitting in the audience just like the students.

"I had no idea what the richness of the nursing journey would offer me and all that I had to learn along the way," she said. "I've been so fortunate to work in spaces where I've been able to use my nursing perspective and continue to learn. Over the years I've learned much about the importance of all person care, and how technology can enhance them. But even more about the art of teaching and the importance of mentorship, either receiving it or giving it to others."

Two student representatives from the bachelor's and master's classes also offered inspirational remarks to their classmates.

Anna Osipova, a BS in Nursing candidate, extolled the graduating class and reflected fondly of her time at the School.

"CUNY SPS equipped me with knowledge and enhance my skills to use scientific evidence, engage in safe nursing practice and promote patient centered care," Osipova said. "Every online class taken at CUNY SPS enriched my academic journey and prepared me to meet the needs of a constantly changing healthcare system. My professors have always been helpful and supportive. Despite online learning, I felt like part of a class even though we did not meet in person."

She also reminded her classmates the importance of self-care as part of this profession. "Nursing is demanding," Osipova said. "But taking care of ourselves is as important as what we do. Sometimes you'll find yourself in a position to step back in order to step forward. Go ahead and take it. Never be afraid of a change and look for ways to inspire and influence our profession in a positive way."

Following Osipova’s speech, CUNY SPS nursing pins were awarded to the undergraduates, continuing a tradition that acknowledges program completion begun with Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

After the undergraduate portion of the ceremony, Bryan Keane, a MS in Nursing Organizational Leadership candidate, spoke on behalf of the master’s class about how deeply nurses make a difference to people's lives.

"When I began my nursing career, the scope of impact I could have was unimaginable," Keane said. "Nurses are not only caregivers, but they are changemakers, policymakers, patient advocates, and life savers. As the most trusted profession, nursing demands strong, passionate leaders to guide us forward."

He added that despite recent challenges, the dedication of nurses to advance within the field is remarkable. "Let's utilize our skills to pioneer innovations in patient care, enhance our healthcare systems, and mentor the next generation of nurses. Our commitment to these principles, combined with lifelong learning and determination will significantly shape the future of health care."

Keane also said his fellow CUNY SPS graduates are well equipped to lead with competence, act with compassion, and innovate with creativity. "Let us go forth as leaders who not only aim to meet expectations but exceed them. You will not only care for patients, but you will leave an imprint, you will not only advocate for your patients, but you will empower them...doctors may diagnose however, nurses remain the healers, nurses make the difference."

After Keane's speech, graduate nursing pins were distributed, and Dr. Reilly offered final remarks.

"If we've learned anything from the last few years, it is that nurses cannot continue to pour from an empty cup," she said. "Resiliency, innovation and leadership skills must be a necessity. And as leaders in nursing, we hope that you will take that to heart. And remember, for all those that you are leading, it's important to replenish renourish and help your staff to be resilient. It's not simply a nicety or an option in academic curriculum or in professional practice. We do need to take care of ourselves so that we can care for those who are in need."

About the CUNY SPS Online Nursing Programs

The CUNY School of Professional Studies offers a portfolio of online degrees and advanced certificate programs in nursing to help fill the growing void within the healthcare system. Serving as the first fully online nursing degree in the CUNY system, our programs help nurses advance within their careers while continuing their education in a timely, flexible, and affordable way.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

As New York's leading online school since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor's and master's degree options at the City University of New York and serves as the University's first undergraduate all-transfer college. With 26 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor's degree, progress from an associate's degree, earn a master's degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School's renowned and affordable online programs ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

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