College of Nursing Celebrates Hooding and Pinning of Graduates

By Spencer Watson

Graduate“Today I want to share how proud we are of all our graduates, their accomplishments and their commitment to patient care,” said Patricia A. Cowan, Ph.D., RN, dean and professor of the UAMS College of Nursing. “Many of them have served as frontline nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing to provide care to patients, with and without COVID, who were without the support of loved ones.”

In the first ceremony, master’s and doctoral-level graduates were hooded, an academic custom dating back hundreds of years to signify achievement in higher learning. The apricot color of the hoods is the traditional regalia color for nursing. The ceremony included graduates of the master of nursing science (MNSc.) programs, including adult gerontology acute-care nurse practitioner, adult gerontology primary-care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, nursing administration and pediatric nurse practitioner. It also included graduates of the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program.

Courtney Scarbrough, a DNP graduate, delivered the address congratulating her classmates and thanking faculty, especially given the circumstances of the past year.

“[Clinical Associate Professor Janet] Rooker can probably attest to how stressful this was to me and my classmates, and how, even when I was quarantined at home with COVID-19, I wanted to make sure I would graduate from this program on time,” she said.

During the virtual ceremony, as their names were called each student greeted the assembly and then were hooded by friends, family or colleagues.

The second ceremony celebrated the graduates receiving a bachelor’s of nursing science (BSN) degree. Each student received their pin, an emblem of the profession with a design unique to UAMS, often considered by many to be their symbolic transition from students to colleagues. Graduates also took the Florence Nightingale Pledge.Undergraduate

Taylor Moll, senior class president, addressed the graduates, reminding them to embrace the adaptability learned over the past year as the pandemic interrupted clinical training.

“Part of being a registered nurse is rolling with the punches. Our patients’ conditions can change in the blink of an eye, and that is exactly what happened with our school career,” she said. “I’m extremely proud of each of you for what you’ve accomplished and will continue to accomplish in your career as a registered nurse.”

Each ceremony also included the annual presentation of awards for both students and faculty. Those included:


Graduate Awards

Willa Belle Adams Award, which recognizes a master’s graduate who exemplifies clinical nursing skills: Yuliya Cheslavovna Riddle

Veronica McNeirney Award, presented in recognition of clinical excellence in the care of seriously ill adults: Justin Goucher

Kathryn P. “Bucky” Thomas Award, given to the graduate student who demonstrates kindness, compassion, and gives positive encouragement to others, and shows respect for and loyalty to the College of Nursing: Ann Marie Estes

Outstanding Future Nurse Leader Award, presented in recognition of exceptional potential for outstanding future contributions to the profession as a nurse leader: Joanna Allison Rostad-Hall

Outstanding MNSc. Faculty Award: Donna Middaugh, Ph.D., RN

Outstanding DNP Faculty Award: Faye Hughes, DNP, MNSc., RN

Outstanding Ph.D. Faculty Award: Martha Rojo, Ph.D., RN


Undergraduate Awards

Most Supportive Student Award, presented to the graduate who supports other students through triumphs and trials, facilitates group morale, shares time and talents, and gives sincere positive encouragement: Lindsey Delain Reynolds

Nightingale Award, presented to the leader who demonstrates a desire to contribute to the nursing profession and has participated in civic and community activities at the state and national level: Anna Karen Reyes-Guerrero

Nurses’ Nurse Award, for the nurse(s) that you would most like to care for you if you were ill, and whose loyalty lies to the patient first: Tania Marely Acevedo

Nursing Excellence Award, presented to the graduate who demonstrates outstanding class and clinical preparation, confidence and competence in nursing, who communicates well, is creative in delivery of care, looks further than the textbook for answers and assists other students when needed: Cody Ray Jones

Faculty Gold Key, presented to the BSN graduate who demonstrates academic excellence, leadership in professional and community activities, excellence in nursing practice and personal and professional growth: Alexander Joseph Mallory Rottman

Faculty Award for Outstanding Achievement and Contribution, presented to the BSN graduate who demonstrates exceptional leadership efforts that enhance student/faculty relationships, and who encourages other students to participate in their professional organization: Taylor Ann Moll

Gloria Rauch Award, which honors the pursuit of excellence in nursing care of children, and is presented to the BSN graduate who demonstrates scholastic achievement and excellence in practice with infants, children and their families: Krista Ann Tressner

Ina Sweetnam Award, presented to the graduate who has achieved scholastic excellence and who demonstrates excellence in the care of maternity patients: Abigail DeSantis

Virginia R. Jarratt Award, presented to the BSN graduate who demonstrates scholastic achievement, excellence in the art and science of nursing, awareness of the heritage of nursing and current forces affecting the delivery of health care, and performance that reveals appreciation of nursing as a caring profession: Gisele Hardy

Dean’s RN to BSN Award, presented to a RN graduate in the outreach program who demonstrates excellence in nursing practice, professional growth and community leadership: Lily House

Daisy in Training Award: Meghan A. Cooley

Outstanding BSN Faculty Award: Jamie Jones, Ph.D., MSN, RN

Outstanding RN to BSN Faculty Award: Larronda Rainey, DNP, RN

Graduates of the BSN program also presented a gift to Nicole Ward, Ph.D., RN, APRN, who returns to a full-time faculty role after serving as director of the BSN program.