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College of Nursing Commencement Marks Milestone for Students, College

A person carrying a red banner towards a stage

The 2017 December commencement of the University of Houston College of Nursing marked the 1000th graduate of the nursing program.

“We have contributed to the education of 1,000 individuals—new nurses or nurses pursuing advanced degrees,” said Kathryn Tart, professor and founding dean. “The University of Houston College of Nursing graduate is a nurse leader who cares for the communities in which he or she practices. We are proud of the accomplishments of all our alumni and look forward to educating the next thousand nurses from UH.”

Students participated in the commencement and pinning ceremonies at the UH Cullen Performance Hall.

Student Jessica Lee Kidwell crossed the stage as the 1000th graduate of the UH Nursing program. She graduated from the Second Degree BSN program. The rigorous program is for professionals who already have a degree, but want to pursue nursing.

A group of students wearing graduation regalia and holding candles

The 1,000th graduate milestone includes those who attended the program since its inception at the University of Houston-Victoria, when it was the School of Nursing. The program moved to UH Sugar Land in fall 2015, where it is now the College of Nursing. The milestone caps a year of significant growth for the program:

  • Eighty-six students make up the December 2017 graduating class
  • The figure represents the largest class from the college’s rigorous Second Degree BSN program
  • 2017 is the inaugural year for the UH Nursing Alumni Association

“It is important to mark this time in our history,” Tart said.

A pinning ceremony is a rite of passage for nursing students that acknowledges the hard work that ends their academic journey and begins their new role as professionals.

An african-american woman standing behind a podium on a stage

“Nurses are the beating heart of the medical system,” said keynote speaker and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. “Nurses provide the civil rights of life.”

Of the students who crossed the stage, 80 are from the Second Degree BSN program and five from the RN to BSN program, a program for nurses who want to complete their bachelor’s degree.

Two students were honored for their outstanding academic efforts.

Jordan Nicole Parker was named Outstanding Undergraduate student. Julie Melynn Zurek was named Outstanding Graduate Student.

Additionally, student Emily Anne Hardy was recognized for maintaining a 4.0 GPA during her studies in the Second Degree BSN program. Allison Artz and Drew Lawler and were recognized for their service as class representatives. They helped to organize more than 60 nursing students and faculty, representing more than 700 hours in service to four shelters during Hurricane Harvey.

The pin students received is unique to UH. At the center of the circular pin is a gray, 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 gray banner at the bottom indicates the degree the student has earned and the culmination of their studies.

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