Nursing graduates recognized for entering profession during pandemic at commencement ceremony

January 6, 2023

Fall Commencement 2022

The University of Minnesota School of Nursing celebrated the graduation of students in the Master of Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs and the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing Master of Arts in Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coaching and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate programs at a commencement ceremony Dec. 16 at Northrop.

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel, JD, congratulated graduates and said that coping with uncertainty may be the most important skill they’ve acquired during their education. “It’s arguably the most important skill anyone can have and I can’t imagine that this group of graduates having gone through what you’ve gone through at the time that you’ve gone through it must have it as much or more than anyone else,” said Gabel.

Dana Erickson, BSN, president and CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, delivered the commencement address. She told the graduates that every experience they have will help shape them on their journey and that the feeling of accomplishment and purpose they are experiencing will stay with them forever.

“Most of you made your choice to enter the health care field during the pandemic. That speaks to a clarity of purpose and determination that I find just remarkable. If a hero is defined by making the choice to run toward danger – instead of running from it – then all of you, today, stand together as heroes,” said Erickson.

Jeannine Rivet, MPH, BSN, RN, FAAN, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree for her advancement of nursing and health care through public service. Rivet served as the executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group and is a leader in challenging systemic barriers to advancing women in leadership positions in health care.

The honorary degree is the highest award conferred by the University of Minnesota, presented to individuals who have achieved acknowledged eminence in cultural affairs, in public service, or in a field of knowledge and scholarship. Rivet is the fifth recipient of an honorary degree nominated by the School of Nursing.

“Jeannine Rivet has challenged the systemic barriers leading to the advancement of women to leadership positions in health care,” said Dean Connie White Delaney, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI, FNAP, reading from Rivet’s nomination letter. “Through her dedication to the mentorship of women, her impactful leadership role in the largest health and wellbeing company in the world, and leadership in boards and organizations, hundreds of women have been able to advance to significant leadership and executive roles, influencing health care systems to improve the health of individuals and communities.”

Victoria Jackson, MPH, BS, spoke on behalf of Master of Nursing students, encouraging them to “be kind, be empathic and be good no matter how overwhelmed you may be sometimes. Remember, no matter how difficult the days may get, don’t forget the reason you became a nurse.”

Jessica Flannigan read the remarks of Mai Joua Yang, BS, NBC-HWC, who was unable to attend, and spoke on behalf of the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing graduates.

Dean Delaney presented the graduates to Regent Kendall Powell, BA, who conferred the degrees to the graduates.

Cheryl Lanigan, BSN, School of Nursing Alumni Society Board president, welcomed the newest alumni and explained the significance of the Pinning Ceremony, which is a nursing tradition that goes 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.

“It is in this spirit of lifelong learning, recognition of your current achievements, and hope for many future contributions to the nursing profession that the School of Nursing Alumni Society is pleased to welcome you as our newest alumni,” said Lanigan. “As our newest graduates, you represent both the future of nursing and the School of Nursing’s legacy.”

Watch the Fall 2022 Commencement Ceremony here.

Categories: School News


Media Contacts

Steve Rudolph
School of Nursing