December 2018

“Graduates, your degree signifies not only the mastery of the nursing discipline, but your individual discoveries and attributions that you were able to unearth to improve the practice of nursing right here and now,” said Dr. Maria Connolly, executive director, RN-to-BSN program at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois. “You’ve already advanced the nursing profession to a new level.”

Connolly was the keynote speaker at Palm Beach Atlantic University’s School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Hooding Fall 2018 ceremony, which was held in the DeSantis Family Chapel, last Thursday night, where she helped welcome the 22 newest doctor of nursing practice [DNP] candidates.

A PBA Nursing School consultant and leader in the nursing education research and practice nationwide, Connolly helped celebrate the students’ prestigious degree accomplishment with some witty anecdotes and insightful counsel.

When she first visited PBA in 2013, a doctoral degree in nursing was just a dream—a glimmer in the eye of Dean and Professor of Nursing Dr. Joanne Masella, and Associate Deans Dr. Patrick Heyman and Dr. Debbie Morgan. Now the PBA School of Nursing is graduating the second and third DNP classes for a total of 40 doctoral nursing graduates since its inception.

Connolly had the opportunity to review the student projects and organize them into categories, such as women’s health, weight loss, HIV, diabetic education, older adult health with caregiver support, pediatric adolescent health and bridging the gap between homeless population with primary care.

“Stick together after graduation and continue to do projects as studies and mentor each other,” she encouraged the graduates. “Take your published work and make sure it gets out to the most important people in the world—your patients.” 

Toward the end of her speech, Connolly made two final points: “Make your lives about relationship, not things. And, touch people. One of the things that sadly happens when we get up in degrees, it’s we get further and further away from the patient. There’s nothing better and nothing finer than your hands on your patients. Somehow, someway, do that. We are the exempt group in this world who has the privilege of going in and touching a patient without any second thoughts.

“They’re open to our love and our touch. Secondly, you must find your way to serve. Use your expertise in service. Use your voice to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. And remember, everybody has a story to tell. So, listen.”

During the award presentation following the hooding ceremony, Dr. Jill Shutes, assistant professor of nursing, presented the Outstanding Poster Presentation certificates to Junique Henry and Alexandra Renelus. Graduate Ashley Barquin received the DNP Excellence Award to for her research on parents of children with attention-deficit disorder.

Following the presentation, the candidates were hooded by DNP faculty members. The DNP candidates for Summer and Fall 2018 classes include:

Angel Aguilar

Michelle Anagnostu

Joey Anthony

Ashley Barquin

Juliette Becerra

Natalie Chaiser

Florence Chavanne

Kelly Cheek

Allison Delpesche

Ashley Guzman

Katy Haddon

Junique Henry

Ashleigh Kittel

Jamie Martinez

Nithya Mathai

Darnelle Mondesir

Alexandra Renelus

Michelle Rose

Ruth Simon

Jenna Steffel

Sarah Stevens

Doris Teran

The 22 candidates received their nursing doctorate diplomas at the 2018 Fall Commencement, held on December 8, at the Expo Center at the South Florida Fairgrounds.

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