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Caldwell, N.J., Dec. 21, 2021 – Caldwell University celebrated 33 students who received their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees at its annual second degree convocation and nursing pinning ceremony Dec. 20. 

Dr. Donna Naturale, associate dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, provided greetings. She recalled her own pinning ceremony years ago. “I remember the excitement of entering the nursing profession and the eagerness to begin caring for patients holistically. It was an honor to receive my pin, and I’m sure our nursing graduates are feeling the same today. At Caldwell, our dedicated faculty have prepared our graduates to care holistically for their patients and to live by the Dominican mission of Caldwell University.”

Dr. Kathleen Ann Kelley, director of undergraduate nursing education, presented the candidates and was the hostess of the event. 

Caldwell University President Matthew Whelan, Ed.D., said he was proud and humbled to be in the graduates’ presence. He pointed out that for the last two years the work of nurses has been highlighted in television and social media due to the pandemic. “Nurses have been recognized as the heroes they are. They have been recognized as those people who are overworked, as they very often are. And they have been recognized as the professionals, the lifesavers, the caregivers, all of those who are out working hard, giving hope, one of the greatest gifts you can give. And one of the greatest things I hope your training has taught you is that you are there to give hope.”

Dr. Whelan told the graduates that although they are about to enter the world during a very difficult time they have been well trained by their faculty. “So go do the work that you are trained to do. Do it with compassion. Do it with care. And do it in a way that really tells other people that Caldwell nurses are very, very special. Because you are.” 

Dr. Peter Ubertaccio, vice president for academic affairs, said the Sisters of Saint Dominic founded Caldwell in 1939 because they believed that the message of St. Dominic de Guzman was necessary and relevant in the modern world. Speaking to the future nurses, he said, “Thinking critically, pursuing truth, contributing to a just society are more than the words of our mission; they flow through them and all of us to you and from you to the people who will be in your care.”

He pointed out that the graduates’ studies have taken place largely amid a pandemic “that is changing so much of our world  and during an extended period of political and social division that can lead to despair and pessimism about the future.”

“When I need a healthy dose of optimism, I’ll be thinking of you—not just our graduates but our nursing faculty and the family and friends who’ve supported you these many years and now get to participate in a dream fulfilled.” 

Ellina Chernobilsky, Ph.D., associate vice president for academic affairs, told the graduates that  the ceremony “is a rite of passage to symbolize your first, among many, achievements on your professional journey and to declare your readiness to care for humanity not as an amateur or a volunteer, not as a trainee, but as a professional.” She advised them to let the pin “remind you that, from now on, your mission is threefold—to care, to advocate and to lead. In other words, you are now a care provider to your patients, an advocate for them and their families, and a leader in any setting you might find yourself in.”

The prayer and the blessing of the pins were led by Colleen O’Brien, director of campus ministry.

The students who received their degrees are:

Murphy Akawuaka

Joelle Bramwell

Madison A. Bury

Sarah Carlson

Troy Carrington Jr.

Jemima Cineus

Emily Rose Dello Russo

Jordan Dixon

Debre Ellsworth

Julia Farina

Shannon Leigh Fields

Breanne Finan

Mollie Forman

Rudy Lee Jyssica Goco

Julie Anne Habibul

Sam Hassan

Kiana B. Isaac

Christopher B. Jean-Joseph

Michael Lake

Marissa Laterza

Nasiba Malikova

Cecelia Marie McCann

Erinn McKenna

Krystina Millstein

Kasey Nevard

Swara Patel

Kaylee Marie Powers

Matthew Benjamin Rodriguez

Mackenzie Santorelli

Olivia Turner

Taylor Ungaro

Miranda Renee Wade

Adam Wilk Jr.

Several students were welcomed to Sigma Theta Tau Psi Mu by chapter advisor and nursing professor Dr. Aneesha Jean, DNP, RN, CNE. They are: 

Joelle Bramwell

Debra Ellsworth

Julia Farina

Shannon Leigh Fields

Mollie Forman

Julia Anne Habibul

Erinn McKenna

Kaylee Powers

Matthew Benjamin Rodriguez

Mackenzie Santorelli

The Daisy Nursing Award was presented to Debra Ellsworth.

The Susan Smiley Green Award was named for a CU student who passed away before receiving her nursing degree. Receiving that award for leadership were Michael Lake, Shannon Fields and Sam Hassan. 

The Positivity and Perseverance awards were presented to Murphy Akawuaka, 

Emily Dello Russo and Madison Bury. The Professional Promise Award was given to Mollie Forman, Adam Wilk and Kiana Isaac. The Peer Mentor Award was given to Breanne Finan, Rudylee Goco and Nasiba Malikova. 

The second degree nursing track is open to students who have a non-nursing B.A. or B.S. and seek a career in professional nursing. Second degree students complete 25 credits of prerequisite course work before taking the 63 credits of nursing major course work.  

Click Here To watch the ceremony