More than 80 students graduated in Brigham Young University’s 140th convocation ceremony for the College of Nursing last Friday morning in the Joseph Smith Building auditorium.
As the graduates filled the room, the excitement was palpable and the spirit was strong. The students were taking the final steps of their nursing education, after completing six semesters working to master the Healer’s art.
Graduate Jenna Bowles started off the ceremony with joyful thanks for the support the graduates received during their time in the program. She urged her classmates to remember what they gained at BYU, as well as how they got this far.
“We must never forget the reason we decided to become nurses,” Bowles said.
Following Bowles, four graduates performed a moving rendition of “Lord, I would Follow Thee,” including two verses written for the nursing school’s 50th anniversary by the original hymn author, Susan Evans McCloud.
“I would heal as though hast healed me… Lord, I would follow thee.” The words of the program’s unofficial hymn ― sung by graduates Ashlyn Calhoon, Natalie Cottrell and Alexis Valle, accompanied by Sophie Wilson on the violin and Lauren Durnford on the piano — emulated the spirit of the ceremony and the college’s mission.
Jean Bigelow, the alumni board chair, then reminded the graduates that as they head out as alumni of BYU’s College of Nursing, they have an opportunity to help patients in a unique way — not just physically, but spiritually.
She shared the words of the apostle Paul from 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Bigelow urged the graduates to remember those words and be excited that they are part of BYU’s wonderful legacy.
“Be examples of Jesus Christ, our Master Healer,” she concluded.
After the graduates walked across the stage, Dr. Mary Williams expressed her joy and pride at how far they had come. Officiating for Dean Patty Ravert who was attending her own son’s convocation, she is the associate dean for graduate studies, and scholarly works and contribution to the discipline, as well an associate professor.
“I know, as you do, the great sacrifices made so you could be here today,” she said.
Williams spoke of the many remarkable aspects of the College of Nursing, including the unique fact that the college was established at the request of the LDS Church. It is the only department on campus that was specifically asked for by prophets of God.
“I know that heaven’s eye is ever focused on this college,” Williams said. Even more remarkable is the college’s commitment to teaching the Healer’s art — not just any healer, but the Master Healer.
“No other profession on this earth allows you to walk so closely in the Master’s footsteps,” Williams told the graduates. “We often speak of the Savior’s ministry. Make your profession part of your ministry.”
She then told the audience that in order to make the biggest difference for patients during difficult times, the nursing students and graduates must be in tune with Christ. She shared her deeply personal experience with cancer saying, “It was not until a few years ago that I truly understood the importance of a nurse.”
While going through chemotherapy, Williams felt overwhelming feelings of fear, discomfort and pain, but it was the nurses who treated her that brought her comfort and peace.
“Aim to find the reassurance that only the Master Healer can bring,” she said.
Williams told the graduates that she knows they are capable of doing difficult things because they have accomplished so many difficult things during their years at BYU. She urged them to let faith permeate their lives, and to look forward and believe.
The graduation concluded with this message of hope, faith and love as Williams shared a quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “As the world darkens with despair, you will carry the spirit of the Y throughout the world. Let the lamp of your education drive back the borders of darkness.”