LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Covenant’s School of Nursing held a virtual graduation ceremony online Friday, a first for the school.
Awards were announced and each of the graduate’s names was read out loud. Two valedictorians gave their commencement speeches during the ceremony. The dean of the school and other leaders talked about different ways of recognizing the graduating nurses during the COVID pandemic.
"Welcome to our first ever Covenant School of Nursing virtual graduation,” said Karen Baggerly, Chief Nurse Executive at Covenant Health, “This graduating class has, you really have many firsts. You're graduating in the midst of a pandemic. I don't know that that's happened before and you're also graduating in the year of the nurse.”
“I’m happy to have everyone here. I am sad that we are not able to recognize our graduates in person,” said Alicia Anger, Dean of the Professional Nursing Program, “I know that they have worked so hard over the past two years, but I am thankful that we do have the ability, with technology to be able to recognize them in a special way, in the most special way that we can at this time.”
“When you see a moment like this, it really makes you reflect on all of our societal changes that we’re kind of dealing with COVID-19,” said Walt Cathey, President of Covenant Health Operations and Shared Services in Lubbock, “Big moments like this, to be huge celebrations. I hope you still take time to celebrate those moments because it’s a big achievement for everybody, making it to this point in their lives and in their careers. But we also have to realize that we are dealing with some kind of uncertain times as well, and this is definitely one of those oddities that we’re all trying to live through in our life and figuring out what’s going to be the new norm, both in society and in health care.”
“I think entering the nursing profession in these times brings new challenges for you and as Walt said, new challenges for all of us,” Baggerly said. “I would imagine that you probably didn’t intend to, or couldn’t even imagine, starting your first job, with feelings of uncertainty and perhaps fear of caring for patients and their family members, but it’s true- nurses are heroes. And somehow, we managed to overcome those obstacles, mostly with support from one another.”
"To our graduates: on behalf of Covenant School of Nursing, faculty, and staff: Congratulations to each of you. We are proud of you and we’re excited for you to start your nursing careers,” Anger said.
One graduate was able to watch the ceremony at work, and celebrated in a unique way, thanks to her employer. In a special video posted online by Grace Health, you can see Doctor Robert Carr help celebrate a momentous occasion for one graduating nurse, Amy Gillispie. Gillispie said she just celebrated her fifth work anniversary working with Dr. Carr.
“Dr. Robert Carr he’s the one who turned my tassel and handed me my diploma,” Gillispie said. “He’s taught me a lot, and I’ve really got into the orthopedic setting that he practices in. And so, because we’ve grown to not only have a close work relationship, but a great friendship, it was really awesome to have him be the one to turn my tassel and hand me my diploma.”
Gillispie says that while she may have not been able to walk the stage, her graduation will still be a memorable one.
“Even though we didn’t get to actually walk the stage, I feel like this is almost going to be more memorable because it was Covenant’s very first virtual graduation and a virtual graduation for most of us that we’ve never been able to participate in or be a part of. So, it was gonna be definitely one for the memory books for sure.”