Class of 2020 called “the hope of nursing” during Investiture celebration

Linda Norman, graduate LaGaunda Jones, Terri Allison in academic regalia stand on stage at VUSN Commencement 2020
After a 12-month wait, the Vanderbilt School of Nursing Class of 2020 celebrated—and was celebrated—in person during Investiture ceremonies held on campus May 2. The intimate ceremony for graduates, family and friends was both traditional and innovative as it accommodated COVID-19 safety protocols while still retaining appropriate pomp and circumstance.

In her address to graduates, Dean Linda D. Norman, DSN, FAAN, observed that they had been working as advanced practice nurses and leaders in the time since they finished their degrees, and as such, they had experienced the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontlines and in the trenches of patient care.

Dean Linda Norman in academic regalia at a podium“COVID-19 will not be the last public health emergency the world will see. It may not even be the last public health emergency you or I will see,” Norman said. “When the next emergency hits—and it will—nurses will again be ready with knowledge, compassion, skill and perseverance. That is what nurses do. That is who nurses are.

“I told you last year that the world needs you more than ever. I meant it, and I still do,” Norman said. “You are the present, you are the future, and you are the hope of nursing.”

The ceremony also included a video message from Provost Susan Wente and recognition of the School of Nursing 2020 Founder’s Medalist, Jane Mericle, DNP’20, and the class’s banner bearer, Gwendolyn Godlock, DNP’20, who also served as the class representative in planning the previous year’s virtual events and current ceremonies.

Godlock, who works as an accreditation and quality/patient safety advocate, says that attending the Investiture was a way to add closure to one of her greatest academic accomplishments. “Earning a Doctor in Nursing Practice degree in Executive Leadership from the prestigious Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is not an everyday occurrence,” she said. “Seizing the opportunity to don my Vandy hood in person was not an option, but a dream come true.”

Group of graduates in academic regalia donning academic hoodsTo maintain protocols, the students did not take part in the opening procession, but went directly to assigned chairs placed six feet apart. As is traditional, they carried their regalia hoods over their arms, but faculty did not place students’ hoods over their heads when the students’ names were called. Instead, the students donned their own hoods at the same time in a group hooding ceremony, after which Norman announced that the graduates had successfully completed the learning for their degrees and were no longer to be called students but colleagues. The graduates then walked across the platform individually as their names were called, collected an apricot rose symbolizing the nursing discipline and were photographed with Norman and their program director.

The Class of 2020 included 328 Master of Science in Nursing and 70 Doctor of Nursing Practice graduates who finished their programs in August 2019, December 2019 and May 2020. An additional three PhD in Nursing Science graduates were honored in Vanderbilt Graduate School ceremonies.

Photos: Susan Urmy, VUMC

Top photo:
Dean Linda Norman, DNP graduate LaGaunda Jones and DNP Program Director Terri Allison on the platform during VUSN 2020 Investiture ceremonies.

Top right:
Dean Linda Norman addresses the graduates and their guests.

Middle right:
DNP graduate Gwendolyn Godlock crosses the platform after picking up an apricot colored rose symbolizing the discipline of nursing.

Bottom right:
VUSN Class of 2020 graduates don their academic hoods in a group hooding ceremony necessitated by COVID-19 precautions.