Category Archives: Convocation

Turn On Your Light

By Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis Grad PicBrandon Lewis speaking at August 2018 convocation.

In light of this year’s graduation theme, “Turn on Your Light,” I’d like to share with you a recent experience. A few months ago, I had a mid-school crisis. Maybe you have had a similar experience, where you question everything you are doing and wonder if you made the right career choice. In my case, I was reflecting on my recent clinical hours.  In a family practice that emphasizes functional medicine, a majority of the patients I had seen were struggling with chronic disease. As you know, there exists no magic pill that will reverse chronic disease overnight, and improvements were very slow coming for some of my patients. So, I found myself asking, “Is what I do improving the lives of others? Am I making a difference? Do patients even need me?”

As I pondered these questions over the next few days, I had a distinct prompting come to my mind.  It was simple, but the answer I was searching for. The prompting said, “They aren’t supposed to do this alone. None of us are supposed to do this alone. We were never meant to do this alone.”

That was reassuring to me. As I thought about this answer, the first line of the Portuguese hymn, Lead Kindly Light, kept coming to my mind. It translates as, “In the darkness oh shine sweet light. Come guide me!”

As this hymn and this year’s graduation theme portray, we have chosen a profession that allows us to be there for others, to turn on our light, and guide them through their darkest times. They will not have to do this alone, just as we would have never been able to get to where we are today alone.

So in that light, before continuing my thoughts, I want to take a moment to thank all of the friends, family, and faculty that have helped each one of the graduates reach this milestone. I know I would not be standing here today without the unconditional, loving, devoted support of my wife Lana and our children, without my favorite aunt named Sheryl, who let me sleep on her couch all through school, without wonderful in-laws that looked after my family while I was away at school, supportive parents, and countless others. I know every graduate here feels the same about those closest to them in their lives. And I know we are all especially grateful for the sometimes thankless sacrifices, time, and efforts that the faculty put in to educate us and get us to graduation.  We couldn’t have done it alone, so thank you.

And now we’re here. Not alone, but together, having received the help we needed to become successful healers. Now we get to turn on our light and provide a beacon of hope to others, like our Savior does for us.  In his book ​“When Breath Becomes Air”,​ Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi eloquently captured this principle of being there for others when he said,

“The physician’s duty (and I would add nurses and nurse practitioners) is not to stave off death or return patients to their old lives, but to take into our arms a patient and family whose lives have disintegrated and work until they can stand back up and face, and make sense of, their own existence.”

For some of us, this may be done in an emergency room trauma bay, preventing the loss of a life.  For others, it may be in hospice, providing a peaceful transition out of this life. It could be in surgery, oncology, cardiology, pediatrics, primary care, or countless other ways where our services are required.  It could be full time, part time, here in Utah, or anywhere else in the world. The important thing is that, as Oprah advised,

“You…find what sparks a light in you so that you, in your own way, can illuminate the world.”  Or as Sister Eubank admonished, to turn on your light.

I know that as nurses and nurse practitioners we will bring light to a lot of people, and together, we really can illuminate the world, especially as we remember to “let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works, and glorify our Father, which is in heaven.”

I would like to close with a poem from Irish poet John O’Donohue entitled, “For A Nurse”

In this fragile frontier-place, your kindness

Becomes a light that consoles the brokenhearted,

Awakens within desperate storms

That oasis of serenity that calls

The spirit to rise from beneath the weight of pain,

To create a new space in the person’s mind

Where they gain distance from their suffering

And begin to see the invitation

To integrate and transform it.

May you embrace the beauty in what you do

And how you stand like a secret angel

Between the bleak despair of illness

And the unquenchable light of spirit

That can turn the darkest destiny towards dawn.

May you never doubt the gifts you bring;

Rather, learn from these frontiers

Wisdom for your own heart.

May you come to inherit

The blessings of your kindness

And never be without care and love

When winter enters your own life.

As nurses and nurse practitioners, I hope we recognize the privilege we have of turning on our lights to awaken the brokenhearted and help others rise from beneath the weight of pain and transform it…just as our Savior, The Master Healer, does for each of us. Because of Him, we never have to do this alone.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Brandon Lewis spoke at the August 2018 college convocation.

Let Your Light Shine

By Daniel R. Smith

Daniel SmithDaniel Smith speaking at August 2018 convocation.

In her general conference address, Sharon Eubank tells a story of how two innovative onlookers used their light to save the lives of two young boys caught in a rip current in Panama City Beach in Florida. As soon as Roberta Ursrey saw her two young sons screaming for help 100 yards from the beach, many other people jumped in the water to save the boys. However, their attempts to rescue the boys were unsuccessful and soon there were nine people struggling to keep their heads above the water until Jessica Simmons and her husband formed an 80-person human chain to save the others. It must have been amazing to see all those strangers coming together to help in that rescue. In order for this rescue to be a success, someone had to be different and raise their voice. Someone had to turn on their light. This is what we have been taught in Brigham Young University’s College of Nursing.

Through different channels we all decided to become nurses. This idea became a dream, which will soon become reality, and has in so many ways already become a calling for us. As we have learned the Healer’s Art, each of us has learned to turn on his or her light.

Each of us celebrated as we read our acceptance letters. With each semester that passed, our competitive natures changed from “How can I survive in this class?” to “How can we help each other?” to “How can I learn the Healer’s art to better care for my patients?”

We have all made sacrifices and seen success while learning the Healer’s Art. We have learned to celebrate with those that need celebrating and lift up others going through difficult circumstances. This is the heart of nursing.

One of the unique things about nursing is that it allows for us to choose from a variety of different fields in which we may turn on that light. Each of us will take different paths to find our niche. Some of us will end up in long-term care, medical/surgical units, pediatrics, labor and delivery, emergency care, intensive care, management, advanced practice, and many other areas. No matter which specialty we end up in, we will all spend the years to come developing the Healer’s Art.

Healing goes beyond fixing a medical diagnosis. BYU has taught us to help others heal spiritually, mentally, and emotionally as well as physically.

Nurses are special people. Though few in numbers, their light is a great influence that shines throughout the world. I would go as far to say that everyone in this room has been effected in some way by a nurse.

For me, it was a nurse that told me I could run that half marathon two-and-a-half weeks after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

It was nurses that got my wife and me through the difficult week that my wife was hospitalized due to complications in her pregnancy. And it was my fellow nursing students that helped support me in the months that followed.

Nurses are like light houses in the storm. They care, guide, and give hope. It is my hope that each of us lets our lights so shine as we go into the nursing profession.

Congratulations class of 2018!

Daniel Smith spoke at the August 2018 college convocation.


August 2018 Graduation

By Mindy Longhurst

Celebrate!Graduates celebrating their accomplishment.

Camaraderie and excitement filled the room as 51 undergraduate students and 15 graduate students graced the stage for the BYU College of Nursing August convocation ceremony this past weekend. This ceremony marked the beginning of a new journey in the student’s lives. The theme for this year’s convocation was based on Sister Sharon Eubank’s talk “Turn on Your Light.”

Daniel SmithDaniel Smith speaking during the convocation ceremony.

Two students spoke during the ceremony, reminding their fellow students how far everyone has come. Daniel Smith, an undergraduate, focused on how the College of Nursing has taught them to raise their voice and to be a light unto others.

Smith says, “Each of us celebrated as we read our acceptance letters. With each semester that passed, our competitive natures changed from ‘How can I survive in this class?’ to ‘How can we help each other?’ to ‘How can I learn the Healer’s art to better care for my patients?’”

Brandon LewisBrandon Lewis celebrating with a loved one.

Brandon Lewis, earning his master’s degree, emphasized how no one is meant to do things alone in this life. He explained that nurses need to be able to help patients heal. His speech concluded with an admonition to turn to the Savior, the Master Healer.

Lewis says, “As nurses and nurse practitioners, I hope we recognize the privilege we have of turning on our lights to awaken the brokenhearted and help others rise from beneath the weight of pain and transform it…just as our Savior, The Master Healer, does for each of us. Because of Him, we never have to do this alone.”

Alumni board chair, Curtis Newman, explained the historical significance behind nursing pins, which all of the new graduates received. Dean Patricia Ravert concluded the meeting by telling the students to keep the Lord in their lives and added a few suggestions for how to continue practicing the Healer’s art.

The Honor of Being a Nurse

This is one of the speeches from the recent convocation ceremony for the BYU College of Nursing, given by Aubrey Sandberg.

My friends, congratulations! We made it to graduation! We survived clinicals, pre & post assessments, tests, simulations, pass-offs, 5 am drives to Salt Lake, crazy amounts of traffic, care plans and NCLEX questions. We’ve pushed through blood, sweat, tears and all the other bodily fluids found at clinical. We’ve seen birth and death and everything in between and we made it! And for some of us that is a literal miracle. Thanks to our cohort, amazing professors, family and friends—we are here today. But most of all it is thanks to our Savior and His love and grace.

Many of you who know me know that I am obsessed with grace. My two mottos in life are “B is for Balance”—which is a speech for another day—and “Grace is Real.” Like many of you, I have been battling some intense health challenges all throughout the Nursing Program, and I know that it is only through His grace that I am literally standing here today. I really do love our nursing theme, “I would learn the Healer’s art” and the song Lord, I Would Follow Thee. I especially love the first verse where it talks about taking the time to help others and “finding strength beyond our own” as we strive to do so. I am a personal witness that this literal strength and help – or grace – is real and I am so grateful for my Savior because of it.

President Uchtdorf said, “When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love.” And I, like many of you, have been a recipient of that comfort, healing and love. My favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon is 3 Nephi 17, when Christ is visiting the Americas and heals the sick and blesses the children.

Christ is about to leave for the night when he sees how sad the people look and says, “Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy… [The Savior] did heal them every one.”

Sister Esplin quoted this passage in her April 2016 talk. She explains  how wonderful it will be when Christ comes again and how she imagines it will be very similar to this passage of scripture.  However, she said until He comes again “He asks us to be His hands.” President Uchtdorf likewise said, “As we emulate the Savior’s perfect example of love and service our hands become His hands”

As nurses, we have the unique opportunity to be instruments in the Hands of the Master Healer.  In the New Testament, most of the Savior’s time and miracles were spent healing others. We have that same opportunity today. While it is a daunting and emotional task at times, it is so rewarding. In Sister Esplin’s talk she said, “Don’t think of your task as a burden, think of it as an opportunity to learn what love really is.”

I have noticed there is a 100% correlation in my happiness/fulfillment as a nurse and how close I am to the Savior. On days where I am distant from Him for whatever reason, I find myself burned out. And nursing is hard! Besides the 13-hour shifts, holidays, weekends and nights-it is emotionally draining. It is hard to stand there when a patient is diagnosed with terminal cancer, it is painful to listen to children talk about abuse, we naturally ache when a woman is sobbing about her miscarriage and her fears about never being able to have children. And the only way I have been able to get through those emotional times is through the Savior. I love the quote from Preach My Gospel that says, “All that is unfair about life will be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”

As nurses we see a lot of the unfair. However, we also see a lot of the joy: a mother’s face when you place her newborn in her arms, the look of relief on family member’s face when a surgery goes well, the day a NICU baby finally gets to go home, and the list goes on and on.

One specific example from my life happened when a patient got to ring the bell after cancer treatment. I did my capstone rotation on the Cancer/Transplant Unit at Primary Children’s and it definitely had its shares of ups and downs. However, one of the most rewarding experiences is after a child finishes their cancer treatment they get to ring a bell before they go home. I was there one day when a patient got to leave after a bone marrow transplant. This particular patient had relapsed and her prognosis did not look good. However, after months of being in the hospital, she finally was healthy enough to go home. So, when her mom made an announcement that she was going to ring the bell everyone came! Her extended family, the clinic employees, the pharmacist, the team of doctors, every nurse and tech and a lot of families on the unit. The hall was packed! She thanked everybody for coming and for our help, we sang her a song and she got to ring the bell three times loudly. Sobbing she immediately ran to her primary nurse and doctor they hugged her for a long time. I hardly knew the patient but I was sobbing too! It was one of the most rewarding and spiritual experiences of my life. I am grateful for both the hard and rewarding moments in our career because they provide us the opportunity to stay close to our Savior and maintain an eternal perspective in life.

One of my favorite quotes about nursing is by Thom Dick. He said, “You are going to be there when a lot of people are born. You are going to be there when a lot of people die. Such moments are regarded as sacred and private, made special by a divine presence. What an honor it is to be a nurse.”

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of BYU’s Nursing Program. I truly do believe it is an honor to be a nurse. I know if Christ was here, He would spend time healing and serving the sick. But as Sister Esplin says, “For now, He asks us to be His hands.”

Thank you.

Aubrey Sandberg

More than providing nursing care

My remarks are based on an address by President Thomas S. Monson entitled “Be Thou an Example.” The underlying theme of President Monson’s talk is threefold. “Fill your mind with truth; fill your heart with love; fill your life with service.” Today I want to focus briefly on these three points and how they not only embody the principles of discipleship in Christ, but also the principles of the Healer’s Art.


Nursing graduates from last August’s Commencement.

At the Brigham Young University College of Nursing, we follow a unique vision that defines our goals and aims in nursing. It is taken from Hymn 220 “Lord, I would follow thee” and it is the phrase “I would learn the Healer’s art.” Striving to learn the “Healer’s art” and apply it to nursing practice is a profound and often daunting task. However, as the graduating class of 2016 can attest, “Learning the Healer’s art” has offered some of the greatest blessings that nursing school can provide and has set us on a road to provide Christ-like care to our future patients.

So first, returning to President Monson, “Fill your mind with truth.” Through the gospel, we learn the great truth of human identity which is that each patient is more than an ID number and a diagnosis. In truth, each patient is a son or daughter of God, with divine and limitless potential. The call to serve a child of God in a moment of greatest distress and vulnerability gives us the opportunity to practice and apply the Healer’s art; which includes the Christ-like attributes of empathy, compassion, love, patience, understanding, and reliance on our Heavenly Father. As we strive to develop the attributes of Christ and to acknowledge the divine identities of those we serve, our minds will be filled with truth.

Second, President Monson instructs us to “Fill our lives with service.” In so many ways, nursing is defined by the service we provide to patients in all varieties of situations. Service also is key to discipleship in Christ. Nearly three years ago, Kent Blad, the undergraduate associate dean, shared this profound thought with us at a celebratory dinner as we entered into the nursing program. He said “Nursing is one of the only professions where you get paid to serve.” Some may argue that receiving a wage for service defeats the purpose and even negates the blessings of that service. But I believe that it depends on the degree in which we apply the Healer’s art to our service. The Healer’s art helps us see that true Christ-like service is more than just providing nursing care, it is a mentality of compassion and the intent to love that powers and motivates the care. True love and true service lead us to Christ.

Finally, President Monson invites us to “Fill our hearts with love.” I believe that a “heart filled with love” is the inevitable outcome of a “mind filled with truth” and a “life filled with service.” As we always strive to remember the divine identity of our patients and strive to serve them with Christ-like love and compassion, we find that the love of Christ takes hold of our hearts and guides and directs our work. We are transcended to a higher plane of nursing where we are filled with the Healers art and become the hands of God in blessing the lives of His children. I have seen those hands in a student nurse massaging the aged and cracked feet of an elderly man. I have seen those hands in a student nurse wiping the dampened brow of a mother delivering her first child. I have seen those hands in a student nurse lifting the feeble spirit of a man with depression. It has been a blessing to me to be among my peers as they have, in their individual ways, blessed the lives of those around them.

In conclusion, I would like to share one personal experience when I had the blessed opportunity to be the hands of God during one particular clinical experience.

Over the course of a four-week period, I had the opportunity to care for an elderly man with acute pancreatitis who lay in a coma. Now, you might wonder what it is like to care for a patient who is unable to speak or even respond to your words, to your nursing cares, or even your touch. While caring for this man, I learned a deeply valuable lesson about the Healer’s art.

One day while providing oral care to the patient, my nurse observed my technique and stopped me. She looked at me and said “Deven, I know that this man is unconscious, but you cannot allow that to change the way you treat him. He is still here, and still deserving our best and most compassionate care.” At that moment, I suddenly saw this man as a child of God in a moment of deepest need and vulnerability.

From then on, my care changed. I was more caring, more loving, more intent to provide loving service to a man who never could respond to thank me for my actions. A few days later, he died, leaving behind a profound appreciation for life instilled in me. As I have reflected on this experience, I am so grateful for the chance I had to be the hands of God in applying the Healer’s art while caring for this son of God and I have sought to apply this same lesson to all the patients that I care for.

Now, I would be amiss if I did not take a brief moment to express gratitude on behalf of the graduating class.

First, to the faculty. It is almost difficult to say faculty because at this point we see our teachers more as mentors and friends. We will be forever grateful for the guidance and care you have provided us over the course of these past three years. You have helped to shape and mold our nursing practice in such a way that I know we will be forever grateful for.

Second, to the staff at the college, those who sit behind the scenes and allow the programs to operate successfully, we thank you.

To the dean and associate deans, we are grateful for your inspiring messages and your caring words that have been provided to us along every step of our undergraduate journey.

To family and friends, we are forever grateful for the love and support you have provided by loving us, praying for us, and cheering us on during this both difficult and rewarding adventure.

To the graduating class of 2016, I am thankful for the wonderful times we have shared, for the invaluable lessons you have taught me, and for the deep friendships we have developed together.

And to my dear wife, I will always be in
debted to you for you love and kindness and patience with me as I have spent many hours dedicated to my education and research over the past few years. Thank you for your unwavering support and love.

As we move forward into the great profession of nursing, may we never forget what it means to learn the Healer’s art. May we strive to be filled with Christ-like love and compassion. May we strive to be the hands of God in caring for the brokenhearted and downtrod. May it ever be said of the graduating class of 2016 that we “filled our minds with truth” that we “filled our lives with service,” and that we “filled our hearts with love” as we went forward from this place to practice the Healer’s art.

By Deven Jennings—A recent BYU College of Nursing undergraduate program graduate that spoke during the April college convocation on Friday, April 22.