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School of Nursing honors graduates, stresses importance of care and compassion

Matt Dynes | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The School of Nursing honored 384 graduates at the school’s commencement ceremony in Lisner Auditorium Saturday.

Bagpipes ushered the future and current health care professionals into the auditorium, alongside the faculty that assisted them on their academic journeys. Families, spouses, children and grandchildren filled the seats, as speakers stressed the importance of the growing nursing profession.

Here are a few highlights from the ceremony:

1. A compassionate profession

Student speaker and mother of eight, Mary Ann Harmon, told her fellow graduates and colleagues what compassion means to her. Harmon, 60, who decided to go back to school after her children had grown, said she experienced compassion in every aspect of her academic career at the nursing school.

“In its simplest definition, compassion is a deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it,” Harmon said. “To really relate to a patient takes courage, humility, and compassion. It’s something found within each of us.”

Harmon urged the graduates to bring the compassion that they have experienced during their time at GW to wherever their next step in their nursing journey takes them.

“I believe GW has provided the template for a rich experience in nursing, whether you are just starting out, or like myself, changing direction and focus,” Harmon said.

2. The value of mentorship

Pamela Jeffries, the dean of the nursing school, introduced the keynote speaker, Beverly Malone, CEO of the National League for Nursing, whom Jeffries said she admires as not only a colleague, but a mentor.

“Quite simply, Dr. Malone is a trailblazer,” Jeffries said. “I consider her a colleague, a mentor and a friend.”

Malone said that she continues to learn things from Jeffries, as the roles reverse. Looking out to the graduates, she said she sees those students becoming mentors themselves.

“I think every joy of mentoring is when your mentee steps beyond you,” Malone said. “From what I see of the students here, they will be stepping beyond us.”

3. ‘Stepping into greatness’

Malone centered her speech around one key phrase “stepping into greatness.” She said that the commencement ceremony marks the beginning of a life-long journey in a profession that requires a unique sense of caring.

“I believe that that’s what a graduation is really all about,” Malone said. “It’s not about walking into greatness, it’s about stepping. This next step is a stepping into greatness.”

Malone concluded her speech with the recitation of a poem entitled “God’s Minute.” The poem ended with the lines “it’s only just a minute, but all eternity is in it.”

“Use your minutes with care, with passion, with love,” Malone said.

Like these photos? You can purchase your personal photo from this graduation ceremony online at:

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