College of Nursing Honors Graduates at Hooding and Pinning Ceremony

By Chris Carmody

The academic procession took place May 19 at First Pentecostal

Church in North Little Rock on the eve of UAMS’ commencement ceremony.

Patricia Cowan, Ph.D., RN, dean of the College of Nursing, said the faculty is proud of all the graduates for what they accomplished during their time at UAMS. She also thanked the many family members, friends, mentors and professors who helped them along the way.

“They were the village that supported you throughout your academic journey,” she told the students. “They believed in you even in the moments when you didn’t believe in yourselves.”

Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, addressed the attendees by video, praising the College of Nursing for maintaining academic programs that are recognized among the best in the nation. He said the hoods and pins that the students received would serve as symbols of their years of hard work.

“Thanks to your dedication, you stand at a juncture between this academic achievement and your professional career,” he said. “You’re well prepared to accomplish great things.”

The pinning segment of the ceremony honored students graduating with their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. The pins, part of a tradition that originated in the 1960s, represent the graduates’ transition from students to colleagues.

Graduates recite the Florence Nightingale Pledge during the hooding and pinning ceremony.

Graduates recite the Florence Nightingale Pledge during the hooding and pinning ceremony.Image by Bryan Clifton

Faith Stolzer, a BSN graduate, delivered an address on behalf of the undergraduate students. Stolzer recalled arriving at UAMS unsure of whether she could see herself as a nurse, but the experiences she gained as a home health care worker gave her confidence in her ability to deliver compassionate care.

“The past few years have been nothing short of a wild ride, but it’s something that has changed my life forever,” she said.

Stolzer praised the College of Nursing’s staff and faculty for encouraging their students and pushing them to be their best.

“They were shaping our wings and instructing us on how to fly, and now it’s our time to take off,” she told the Class of 2023.

Before receiving their pins, the BSN graduates stood and recited the Florence Nightingale pledge, which includes a promise to devote themselves to the welfare of their patients, their families and their communities.

In the hooding portion of the ceremony, the College of Nursing recognized graduates of the Master of Nursing Science (MNSc) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. The use of hoods in academia can be traced back to the Middle Ages in Europe, when traveling friars wore shoulder coverings that contained pockets to collect alms or offerings.

DNP graduates Chase Watson and Steffen Lewis addressed their fellow students and congratulated them on their achievements. Watson urged the graduates to seek opportunities, set goals and never stop learning.

“You’re about to enter a profession where the career options are limitless,” he said. “Find that niche that excites you each day, and pursue it with vigor.”

Lewis spoke about the difficulties that the students had to overcome, whether in the classroom or in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. He encouraged them to share their stories with others, noting the students’ potential to be a source of inspiration.

“While our specific experiences differed, we all displayed grit, determination and perseverance,” he said.

The ceremony concluded with the presentation of awards for students and faculty members. Those were:

Undergraduate awards

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: Kaylynn Brianne Heard

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: Rhonda Anne Tosh

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: Lakyn Webb

Ina Swetnam Award, presented to the graduate who has achieved scholastic excellence and who demonstrates excellence in the care of maternity patients: Jessica Rios-Rivera

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: Rhonda Anne Tosh

Outstanding RN to BSN Award, presented to an RN graduate in the outreach program who demonstrates excellence in nursing practice, professional growth and community leadership: Alethia Patricia Long

Daisy in Training Award, presented to the BSN senior who went above and beyond to deliver compassionate care: Rhonda Anne Tosh

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: Lakyn Webb

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: Haley Nicole Blackwell

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

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: Rhonda Anne Tosh

Graduate awards

Outstanding Future Nurse Leader Award, presented in recognition of exceptional potential for outstanding future contributions to the profession as a nurse leader: Mary Kathryn McCool

Kathryn P. “Bucky” Thomas Award, presented to the graduate student who demonstrates kindness and compassion, gives positive encouragement to others, and shows respect for and loyalty to the College of Nursing: Krystal Kay McMahan

Veronica McNeirney Award, presented in recognition of clinical excellence in the care of seriously ill adults: ChaseDanee E. Paladino

Willa Belle Adams Award, which recognizes a master’s graduate who exemplifies clinical nursing skills: Katelyn Diane Warren

Faculty awards

BSN Outstanding Faculty Award: Taylor Steele, MNSc, RN

RN to BSN Outstanding Faculty Award: Tiffany Greenfield, DNP, RN

MNSc Outstanding Faculty Award: Neal Reeves, MBA, DNP, RN-BC

DNP Outstanding Faculty Award: Maeghan Arnold, DNP, APRN

Outstanding Accelerated BSN Faculty Award: Megan Owen, MSN, APRN