Class of 2017 Celebrates Achievements During Commencement Weekend

MAY 20, 2017 - The president of Chan Zuckerberg Education told the Class of 2017 at the School of Nursing & Health Studies to author their own stories in life.

“So Class of 2017 – yes, imagine a much better world and a bigger role for you in it,” said James H. Shelton III (H’17), MBA, MA, reflecting upon the sentiments of Robert F. Kennedy. “Yes, believe in yourself and your vision and know that no one is better prepared to write your story than you are.” (Watch the video by clicking here.)

During the school’s ceremony, Shelton received the honorary doctor of humane letters degree. The NHS class includes 114 students who earned bachelor’s degrees in health care management & policy, human science, international health, and nursing and 334 students who received master’s degrees in health systems administration and nursing.

Additionally, nine students who earned the doctor of nursing practice degree graduated yesterday at the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences ceremony. They are the school’s first-ever doctoral graduates.   

‘Have Faith’

Shelton is a well-known leader in the education arena. In addition to his role at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, he has served as the program director for education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education during President Barack Obama’s administration.

“And have faith as you seek to change the world that no matter what is in front of you, what you desire is on the other side,” he added. “You may be surprised at the stories you will write.”

Shelton – who was also the chief impact officer at 2U Inc., a technological company that supports the school’s online master’s program in nursing – thanked his mother, who attended the graduation.

“The list of things I could thank her for would fill many commencement addresses,” he said. “. . . My mom always imagined that I would do something great. And she believed in it enough to make that bet on me, to make incredible sacrifices for me, and, even when I lost my way, she kept her faith.”

Moving Forward

“This is really an exciting day,” said Patricia Cloonan, PhD, RN, the school’s dean. “. . . It is an annual academic milestone that honors your time at Georgetown, moves you from student to graduate, and sends you off into extraordinarily promising futures.”

Cloonan noted that among today’s graduates are the first from the clinical nurse leader specialty of the master’s degree in nursing, as well as the executive master’s in health systems administration.

“I ask that you always connect to the mission and values of this extraordinary university as your guide,” she said.

‘Women and Men for Others’

Before Commencement, the school hosted a number of events to celebrate student achievement.  On Friday, a school-wide Tropaia Ceremony honored undergraduate accomplishment. (Download the Tropaia print program by clicking here.)

Sarah Berg (NHS’17, M’21), who earned a bachelor’s degree in health care management & policy and will enter Georgetown’s School of Medicine in the fall, addressed her classmates at the awards ceremony.

“No matter what field we’re entering, we can have a firsthand role in caring for the sick and vulnerable, as cura personalis teaches,” said Berg, noting that her classmates would “reduce disparities and increase diversity” and make contributions to systems-level policies. “To put it simply, we have the ability, the duty, and the privilege to shape the future of health care throughout our nation and around the world.”

What the class learned at Georgetown, she said, will stay with them. “We’ll take the knowledge we’ve gained from world-renowned faculty,” she said. “We’ll take the support and guidance we’ve received from professors, deans, and advisors. We’ll take the friendships that truly make the NHS the best school on campus.  And we’ll take the Georgetown mission and Jesuit values that have truly shaped us into women and men for others.”

Honors Recognized

At Tropaia, three students were recognized with school-wide awards. Allyn Rosenberger (NHS’17), who will be attending Stanford Law School, earned the Dean’s Medal for graduating first in the undergraduate class. Benjamin Johnson (NHS’17), who will be attending John Hopkins University School of Medicine, received the Rose Anne McGarrity Service Award. Lastly, Annabel Schneider (NHS’17), who will be joining the Peace Corps, won the Sister Helen Scarry, RJM, DMin, Award for Commitment to Social Justice.

Additionally, the school’s academic departments that house undergraduate majors recognized outstanding student achievement with Dana Drecksel (NHS’17) being honored in international health, Caroline Kechejian (NHS’17) in nursing, Nirmal Maitra (NHS’17) in human science, and Daniel Russo (NHS’17) in health care management & policy.

Another annual event highlight included the Pinning Ceremony, where new professional nurses received their unique Georgetown University nursing pin. Georgetown’s chapter of Sigma Theta Tau also inducted new members.

Related Content

School of Nursing & Health Studies

Commencement 2017

Event Photos (Risdon Photography)

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