Shalala Predicts Golden Age of Nursing, Urges Swagger to 2018 Graduates

On Saturday, May 12, the UNC School of Nursing hosted its 63rd Spring Commencement ceremony in the Dean E. Smith Center on a beautiful, if warm, spring evening in Chapel Hill. Dean Nena Peragallo Montano presided over the ceremony, which featured Dr. Donna Shalala, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Clinton Administration, as keynote speaker.

“I strongly believe a golden age of nursing is right in front of us if we seize this moment,” Shalala told the 279 graduating students and their loved ones. “It will not be given to us. All of you must go forth and get the future of nursing. It will take guts, and heart, and a lot of skill.”

“Leadership and first class citizenship also means embracing the unknown,” she said. “Your degrees actually empower you. My advice to you is not to hold back. If a door looks closed, push it open, it’s not locked. Invite yourself to represent your profession. We need you to be in the room. Frankly, we need you to give the profession a little swagger.”

Following Dr. Shalala’s remarks, the Class of 2018 presented its class gift and recognized faculty and staff with awards for exemplary performance. Dr. Louise Fleming was honored with the Faculty Excellence Award, Dr. Shielda Rodgers was honored with the Educational Support Award, and Andrew Mara-Williams of the Office of Student Affairs was honored with the Unsung Hero Award — all very well-deserved recognitions.

Additional remarks were brought by Chair of the Faculty, Theresa Raphael-Grimm and President of the SON Alumni Association, Dr. Ashley Leak Bryant.

By the close of the ceremony, the School claimed 167 new BSN graduates, 78 new master’s graduates, 21 new DNPs and 9 new PhDs.

Sincere congratulations to all on this well-earned achievement! It was wonderful to celebrate with you.