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School of Nursing Celebrates New Semester and Students With Time-honored Traditions

The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing welcomed future clinical leaders, advanced practitioners, and researchers during its 111th Pinning and White Coat Ceremonies and Fall Convocation. Hundreds of families, friends, and alumni gathered to celebrate the start of a new semester and officially mark the beginning of students’ academic and clinical journey at Emory. The class includes 375 new and returning Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students, who hail from 36 states and four countries; 231 Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and post-graduate certificate students; 30 Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students; and 34 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students.

The Pinning and White Coat Ceremonies were held at the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Auditorium. The Pinning Ceremony honored 140 graduate students who had recently completed the BSN portion of their academic program. The White Coat Ceremony paid tribute to students beginning their advanced practice degree programs. During the ceremony two students were honored for their academic excellence, leadership, service, and personal character. Kate Dirks received the Award of Excellence. Mary Frances Doss received the Silver Bowl Award for her leadership, scholarship, and service.

Fall Convocation was held at Glenn Memorial Chapel and included a moving keynote address by missionary and Ebola Survivor Nancy Writebol. Writebol was the second American evacuated by air from Monrovia, Liberia to receive treatment in the United States for the hemorrhagic disease with a 90 percent fatality rate that has claimed the lives of more than 11,000 people in Western Africa alone. She was treated in Emory University Hospital’s Serious Communicable Diseases Unit, one of only four such specialty infectious disease treatment centers in the United States. Writebol recalled how the fear and uncertainty surrounding the disease led the government hospital in Liberia to close its doors to Ebola patients and caused public outrage in the United States from many who believed that she should “suffer the consequences of serving abroad.” She praised the courage and compassion of Emory nurses and physicians and urged nursing students to not let “fear dictate their actions.” She encouraged students to serve their patients with the highest levels of professionalism, compassion and dignity. Writebol closed with several insights to encourage students be the best providers in their areas of expertise:

  • Treat the patient, not just the disease and learn to anticipate their needs
  • Advocate for your patients
  • See your job as a calling
  • Be alert to the small things that will make your patients smile
  • Lead where you stand
  • Learn all that you can and keep learning
  • Above all serve with compassion 

At the ceremony, the School of Nursing also welcomed new faculty, Including: 

  • Rowena Elliott, associate clinical professor
  • Dr. Jill Hamilton, associate professor
  • Dr. Melissa Owen, assistant clinical professor
  • Dr. Kylie Smith, assistant professor and Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Nursing and Humanities
  • Dr. Mi-Kyung Song, professor and director of the School of Nursing’s Center for Nursing Excellence in Palliative Care
  • Dr. Jeannie Weston, assistant clinical professor
  • Dr. Michelle Wright, assistant research professor
  • Dr. Irene Yang, assistant research professor

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