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Fall Commencement for College of Nursing Features Harris County Judge, Spotlights Leadership for New Nurses

Marisa Ramirez

December 20, 2021

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo served as commencement speaker for the Fall 2021 Graduation and Pinning ceremonies of the University of Houston College of Nursing.

“Nursing isn’t just a profession; it is a value statement,” she said. “We’ve always known nursing is noble, honorable and important, but nurses are a crucial link between their industry and the community.”

Lina Hidalgo

The event took place at the UH Cullen Performance Hall. Seventy-nine new nurses from the College’s RN to BSN program, Second Degree BSN program and graduate MSN program crossed the stage following rigorous academic study in the midst of a pandemic.

“We know the unprecedented times we’re living in, the toll of COVID-19 on our communities, families, friends and ourselves,” said Kathryn Tart, professor and founding dean of the College. “But we are passionate about our profession. Congratulations, graduates. You did it.”

Hidalgo spoke about the need for strong leaders, talented and confident in their abilities. She reminded students that choosing to enter a profession in the midst of a pandemic spoke volumes about their leadership skills.

“Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t lead or you’re not ready,” she said. “When you find yourself in complex situations--when you know what is right but unpopular--stand your ground. We will be well served by leaders like you.”

Hidalgo is the first woman to be elected county judge and has been recognized with numerous awards and national honors.

“Lean into the drive that brought you here,” she said. “Guard your heart, nurture your passion and lean in to the ignorance of limitations. You are what our community needs.”

Tart announced that all of the graduates leave with jobs waiting for them. 

Special student accolades included:

  • Outstanding Graduate Student/Academic Excellence: Sara Shelton Campbell
  • Outstanding Undergraduate/Academic Excellence: Alejandra Garcia
  • Outstanding Undergraduates: Alejandra Garcia & Michelle Tat
  • Outstanding Leadership for Class Representatives: Michala Coffman & Cristin Rodrigues
  • Thresiamma Sebastian Outstanding Undergraduate for Clinical Excellence Award: Misha Nguyen

The Clinical Excellence award was named for the mother of a College of Nursing faculty member who succumbed to COVID-19 this year. It also carries a $300 award.

As is tradition, students receive a nursing pin in addition to their diploma. The pin is unique to UH. At the center of the circular pin is the, interlocking UH that represents the student’s journey and partnership with the University of Houston and relationships along the way. A red border inscribed with “University of Houston Nursing” represents passion, advocacy, love, caring and leadership—the values of UH Nursing. Finally, a banner at the bottom indicates the degree (BSN or MSN) the student has earned and the culmination of their studies.

Also, in keeping with tradition, students received a “Lamp of Learning” and recited the Florence Nightingale Pledge, which states their commitment to the profession and to safeguarding and promoting “the health and happiness of humankind.”