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Emory School of Nursing celebrates next generation of nursing leaders during annual May graduation ceremony
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Lauren Powers
Director of Communications and Marketing
Students at graduation

Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing celebrated the accomplishments of its students Monday, May 8 during the school’s annual May Graduation and Pinning Ceremony.

During the event, the School of Nursing presented 208 graduates from its Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD), Master of Nursing (MN), Distance Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (DABSN), and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs with their diplomas and nursing pins. Many of these students will be entering the nursing workforce for the first time, continuing their nursing careers in leadership roles, or beginning another advanced nursing degree program.

Students celebrated in time-honored traditions

During the ceremony, graduates were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the School of Nursing, Emory University, and our community with the school’s annual awards presentation.

  • PhD graduate Carolina Gustafson, MN graduate Colette Masunaga, BSN graduate Allison Park, and DABSN graduate Emily Toubali received the Silver Bowl Awards for excellence in nursing for their respective cohorts.
  • MN graduate Anne Bowen-Long, BSN graduate Lucy Ma, and DABSN graduate Charlie Yzaguirre received their cohorts’ Compassion and Caring Awards for exemplifying empathy, generosity, and caring spirit of the school’s namesake – Nell Hodgson Woodruff.
  • The PhD Transformational Leader Award was presented to PhD graduate Amy Kolwaite for displaying transformational leadership using innovative solutions.

Two graduating students also received distinguished awards during the university’s commencement celebrations.

  • Elsa Mekonnen was the 2023 graduate student recipient of the Marion Luther Brittain Award, considered the highest honor presented to an Emory University student.
  • The university’s Boisfeuillet Jones Medal was given to undergraduate student Jennifer Godoy-Avila for her good citizenship, outstanding leadership, devoted service to Emory and the community, academic performance, and potential to become a 'Change Agent' in the nursing profession.

Faculty and staff accomplishments shined

During the School of Nursing ceremony, each graduating cohort presented the Heart of the Students Award to a faculty member, staff member, or clinical instructor who made a significant difference in their students’ educational experience. Faculty member Kate Yeager was selected by the PhD cohort, faculty member Brittany Butts was selected by the MN cohort, faculty member Rowena Elliott was selected by the BSN cohort, and staff member Ashley Colonel was selected by the DABSN cohort.

Kate Pfiefer, assistant clinical professor and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program assistant director was awarded the Emory Williams Teaching Award for a record of excellence in undergraduate teaching and was established by Emory Williams, a 1932 Emory College alumnus and longtime trustee. 

The Provost’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Education recognizes outstanding scholars who excel as teachers within formal and informal educational settings and was given to Erica Moore, assistant professor of nursing.

University leaders joined in the celebration

Dean Linda McCauley spoke to the graduates about the positive impact they will have on the profession and how advocacy must be a passion. Ravi Thadhani, executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University, congratulated the group on entering such an important profession. Sharon Pappas, chief nurse executive for Emory Healthcare, spoke to her excitement on having such an incredible group of graduates as the new generation of nursing leaders.

Please join the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing on congratulating our students, faculty, and staff on another successful graduation ceremony.

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