After 12 months of accelerated nursing education and clinical training, the 132 students in UConn School of Nursing’s Certificate Entry into Nursing (CEIN) Program walked across the stage at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 16 and took the next step in their nursing careers. It was the first indoor, in-person ceremony the School had held in two years.
The School’s newest graduates came from four UConn campuses: Avery Point, Stamford, Storrs, and Waterbury. All are now prepared to sit for their national licensure exam and, upon passing, enter the health care workforce as registered nurses.
The Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts was filled with graduates’ family and friends, all wearing masks. Despite the face coverings, joy and pride was evident from all in attendance.
The School of Nursing banner was presented at the beginning of the ceremony by four students who were nominated by their classmates and recognized by the Connecticut League for Nursing as Peer Recognition Award winners. They were: Elyssa Mikolajczak from the Avery Point campus; Jennifer D. Velez-Smith from the Stamford campus; Julie Arel from the Storrs campus; and Sarah Ollayos from the Waterbury campus.
UConn’s Mu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International, the honor society of nursing, recognized one graduate at the ceremony. Maggie McGuinness was presented with the Sigma Theta Tau International Award in honor of her excellence, leadership potential, and for exemplifying the spirit of caring in nursing.
Assistant clinical professor Carol Ann Wetmore was selected by the CEIN Class of 2021 as their commencement speaker. She reminisced that, 40 years ago, she was also selected by her UConn graduating class, the Class of 1982, to be its class speaker. Wetmore gave the CEIN graduates useful career advice, from one UConn nurse to another.
“UConn nurses are designed to be leaders,” she said. “I’m talking about leaders in the true sense. Not managers, no formal position nor fancy title, but the people you can count on to do the right thing. People who you look to for guidance. People that you hold in high esteem. That’s what it means to be a UConn nurse.”
Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Jeffrey Shoulson was in attendance to congratulate the graduates and confer their degrees.
“The CEIN program is one of the most important and immediately practical ways our institution helps to serve the needs of the state, even as it offers this extraordinary opportunity for personal and professional advancement,” Shoulson said. “You have all undoubtedly worked hard to reach this point, and we are excited for you to put your education into practice.”
Dean Deborah Chyun inspired the newest School of Nursing graduates, as they set off to join a profession that greatly needs their help.
“As your life of learning continues, take the spirit of inquiry that has brought you to us and fueled your academic success, out into a world that trusts you and needs you,” Chyun said. “I take great pride in the fact that we are sending you out into the world well-prepared to face its many challenges. You are the future and I am confident that the nursing profession is in good hands.”
The Certificate Entry Into Nursing Program is a one-year accelerated program designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field, but wish to pursue a career in nursing. After 12 months of full-time classes and hands-on learning experiences, students graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree. Not only does this put them on track to become registered nurses, but it also helps address the nursing shortage across the country. The program features problem-based teaching and learning and includes components of history, culture, setting data, clinical science, nursing science, independent-dependent-interdependent nursing actions, disease science, health care finance, and ethics.
The commencement ceremony was also livestreamed on the School of Nursing’s YouTube channel and is still available for viewing.