After a year of unknowns, one thing was certain, Gator Nurses were one step closer to achieving their lifelong goals of becoming nurses. The juniors in the BSN Class of 2022 beamed through their masks as they attended the first in-person White Coat Ceremony in over a year. Even with social distancing and masking in place, the energy was electrifying, as students were able to walk across the stage and celebrate this milestone through three separate ceremonies. Family and friends watched the ceremony on a livestream from a distance to ensure proper social distancing protocols were followed.
White Coat was not the only in-person ceremony for the College of Nursing this spring. Commencement ceremonies for graduates from the BSN, PhD and DNP programs were held in the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, signifying their first steps toward a return to normalcy and the start — or advancement — of their nursing careers. While the ceremonies were different from years past, the degrees still hold the same meaning and value, making for a memorable end to an unusual year.
In addition to the in-person commencement, a virtual award ceremony was shared in place of a traditional pinning ceremony for the BSN Class of 2021. This virtual ceremony highlighted the students’ accomplishments and dedication throughout their education. Graduating senior Ashley Velasquez provided a special student address on behalf of the class, and valedictorian Blair Bartick led graduates in the Pledge for Professional Nursing.
Several Gator Nursing students were recognized for awards, including honoring those who exemplified the tri-part college motto: Care, Lead and Inspire. These honorees were selected by faculty for best embodying each of the attributes of the given award. Those recognized included:
Two College of Nursing faculty members — Clinical Assistant Professor Shavondra Huggins, DNP, CNS, WHNP-BC, FNP-C, APRN, CNE, and Clinical Associate Professor Sandra Citty, PhD, RN, APRN-BC — were named recipients of the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Faculty. As part of its service to the nursing profession’s role in patient care, the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Foundation established the DAISY Faculty Award to provide colleges of nursing a national recognition program to demonstrate appreciation for their nursing faculty.
Both faculty members were nominated by undergraduate students for their ability to make a difference in student clinical education.
“Dr. Huggins has become one of my favorite professors since entering the Accelerated BSN program this past year. Her energy, confidence and drive immediately made me think to myself, ‘That is the kind of nurse I want to be someday.’ When it comes to the most complex textbook material, she breaks the content down in a way that is easily digested and absorbed. I would like to recognize her for the DAISY Award for her passion and empathy in how she teaches her students to interact with patients from an unbiased point of view.
— Student nomination for Shavondra Huggins
“Dr. Citty is constantly striving to not only challenge us as students, but challenge the Veteran Affairs units and hospital as a system to do better for our patients. She’s currently working on implementing a research project to sanitize work equipment, and has done incredible projects in the past regarding patient nutrition. She is always striving to make sure each patient we have is treated holistically and getting all of their needs met.”
— Student nomination for Sandra Citty.