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Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing Honored 2021 Graduating Class

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J. Michael Moore
Dir. of Communications

The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing honored its Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, post-master’s certificate, Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, and Doctor of Nursing Practice graduating students during the school’s Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 15 at the Georgia World Congress Center. Friends and family members viewed the graduation in person as well as virtually, celebrating the accomplishments of the 2021 graduating classes of more than 380 students. The ceremony also honored graduates from the 2020 spring, summer, and winter cohorts who were unable to receive their degrees in-person due to the pandemic. 

Emory University President Dr. Gregory Fenves acknowledged the challenges the students faced during an unprecedented moment in history. “Each of you showed tremendous resilience, dedication, empathy, and creativity throughout your time at Emory and especially during this last year. With compassion and empathy, you have committed yourselves to the service of humanity, supporting patients and their families amid their most challenging journeys. The extraordinary importance of your work has been made clear throughout the COVID-19 pandemic - where nurses have been called on time and again - to serve on the frontlines as we battled this devastating disease.” 

The school presented a special honorary award to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who provided extraordinary lifesaving leadership during the pandemic.

Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing Dean Linda McCauley noted the retirement of Steve Ellwood, Director of Information Technology, after 37 years of shepherding the school through ever-changing technologies from Betamax, to VHS, to LaserDisc, to DVD, to BluRay, to streaming. McCauley said that Ellwood “will always be considered part of the ‘heartbeat’ that keeps us working, collaborating, researching, innovating, and caring for others.” 

She told the graduates how proud she was that they met head on the unusual challenges that came their way as they pursued their degrees. “Your journey through nursing school was challenging as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shake the entire world. We’ve experienced great loss of life and the consistencies in life we often take for granted. I’m happy to reflect on how each of you excelled in the face of adversity over the past year. You supported each other along the way as good nurses should. You put in the work: The hours of studying, coursework, and clinicals.”

The ceremony also featured an awards presentation honoring students who demonstrated excellence in leadership, service, collaboration, innovation, and personal character. The student award winners are:

· Silver Bowl Award – Emily Deschambault, Hannah Keith, and Mimi Yu

· Award of Excellence – Shani Badnani, Chelsea Ho, Aliyah Rasheed, and Aneesa Singh

· Boisfeuillet Jones Medal – Natalie Scales

· Excellence in Collaboration – Tiffany Guo

· Excellence in Social Responsibility – Andrew An, Natalie Foland, and Sayoko Sueyoshi

· Excellence in Innovation – Madeline M. Jones

· Excellence in Leadership – Hannah Shaban

· Distinguished Clinical Patient Care – Herb Andrews

· Nell Hodgson Woodruff Award for Compassion and Caring – Christine Alger and Sade Hanciles 

Student-nominated awards were given to faculty on behalf of the Emory Student Nurses Association. These “Heart of the Students” awards are given each year to staff and faculty who go above and beyond in their teaching and mentoring. The Heart of the Students staff award was presented to Andrew Plush, Assistant Director of Career Services, and to David Warren Smith, DABSN Program Consultant. The Heart of the Students faculty award was presented to:

· Rowena Elliott, Associate Professor, Clinical Track, and Program Director – Traditional BSN Program,

· Patricia Moreland, PhD, CPNP, RN, FAAN, Assistant Clinical Professor, and

· Tammi Tanner, Assistant Clinical Professor 

Students Natalie Scales and Sade Hanciles – who both earned Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees – spoke to the class. “Our cohort has faced some of the hardest moments individually and collectively,” Scales noted. “A lot of these moments happened to arise unexpectedly and for that itself, you all are truly incredible.”

Hanciles expanded on that theme. “Nurses are required to be resilient. What we have experienced as a class has without a doubt prepared us to be resilient nurses. We should be very proud of ourselves. To the class of 2021, we made it!”

View the full ceremony at 

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