Health commissioner encourages School of Nursing grads to trust inner voice, accelerate change

May 20, 2024

Commencement 2024

The University of Minnesota School of Nursing celebrated the graduation of 135 Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students, 118 Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students and six PhD in Nursing students, as well as Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing and Institute for Health Informatics students, at a commencement ceremony May 10.

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Brooke Cunningham, PhD, MD, delivered the commencement address, encouraging graduates to have the courage to trust their inner voices to accelerate change.

“The health care landscape is ever changing. Change is needed,” said Cunningham. “I am so happy to be here today because I know the future is nevertheless bright. You all will bring new ideas and the impatience of your generation for change and for us to do better.”

She told graduates that events like their commencement give her hope that health disparities and the root causes of disease, disability and despair can be addressed.

“We are doing big things in Minnesota. I can’t tell you how fantastic it is to feel the energy of possibility,” she said.

Alfonso Amores spoke on behalf of BSN students, reflecting on the last four years of Zoom screens, Campus Connector rides and preparing for night shifts. “As we move on to new horizons, I want you all to remember that determination and resilience that has brought you this far. I want you to remember that nursing is not just a vocation, but a calling,” he said.

Naomi Yosef, who also spoke on behalf of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing students, described her cohort as resilient, brave and determined. “But one characteristic shines through the most, a spirit of advocacy. This year my classmates have shown what it means to stick up for one another, embodying the phrase ‘no one left behind.’ Class of 2024, I am so proud of the community we have built amongst one another. As we embark on our next journeys venturing into various nursing positions let’s always carry this spirit of advocacy with us,” she said.

Jiayue (Bella) Xiong, BSN, spoke on behalf of doctorial students, reflecting on her experience as an international student from China and her career aspiration as a woman of color. “As world citizen in the health care field, I hope that we can all remain true to our original aspirations as we move forward in our career, save lives and heal the disease, promote human health, maintain peace and alleviate the suffering of all human beings in the world and improve the quality of life globally,” she said.

The Class of 2024 graduated as the school celebrates its 115th anniversary. In 1909, physician Richard Olding Beard led the efforts to establish the first school for nursing within a university, rather than under the control of a hospital.

“Uniquely created not for the sake of the hospital but for the education of nurses, our school was founded on the principles that educating nurses would help society recognize the worth of human life, conserve human health and provide for social justice,” said Dean Connie White Delaney, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI, FNAP. “115 years later, I marvel at Beard’s vision to recognize the role of nurses and the role that they could have in promoting health and social justice.”

White Delaney presented the graduates to Regent Mary Turner, who also serves as an ICU nurse at North Memorial Health. Turner conferred the degrees to the graduates.

BSN students participated in a Pinning Ceremony, which is a nursing tradition that dates back more than 100 years where new nurses are presented with the school’s pin by faculty. It represents a symbolic welcoming of new graduates into the nursing profession. The School of Nursing pin features four symbols representing the four dimensions of higher education: the antique lamp represents the metaphysical sciences, the telescope represents the physical sciences, the plow represents the industrial arts and the artist’s palette represents the fine arts. Above and below the shield is the cross of St. George, which for centuries has stood for unselfish service.

“As our newest graduates, you represent both the future of nursing and the School of Nursing’s legacy,” said Laura Kirk, PhD, RN, School of Nursing Alumni Society president. “Graduates of the Class of 2024, we are so glad you are here. You make us so proud.”

Categories: School News


Media Contacts

Steve Rudolph
School of Nursing