June 19, 2024
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Decker College Class of 2023: Ready to change healthcare forever

Binghamton University Commencement ceremonies celebrate nursing and public health graduates

Binghamton University’s Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences conferred almost 300 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Commencement 2023. Here, nursing students proceed into the Events Center, led by Clinical Instructor Brian Coveleskie '15, who served as school marshal at the event. Binghamton University’s Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences conferred almost 300 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Commencement 2023. Here, nursing students proceed into the Events Center, led by Clinical Instructor Brian Coveleskie '15, who served as school marshal at the event.
Binghamton University’s Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences conferred almost 300 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Commencement 2023. Here, nursing students proceed into the Events Center, led by Clinical Instructor Brian Coveleskie '15, who served as school marshal at the event. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

Tassels turned as undergraduate students from Binghamton University’s Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences were celebrated during Commencement 2023, held at 1 p.m. May 12 at the University’s Events Center. A total of 182 students received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at the event. Graduate degrees in nursing and public health were presented at alternate celebrations (see below).

Celebrating undergraduate students

Mario R. Ortiz, dean of Decker College, opened the undergraduate celebration: “I express our gratitude to all of you for being involved in this journey, which is filled with many joys and successes as our students reach this important milestone,” he told the audience. “I also want to commend you, our incredible students, for your perseverance, dedication and willingness to serve your community and all of those within it. Your commitment to this amazing profession has been tested over the past couple of years, and you have overcome more challenges than anyone could have ever imagined.”

Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger spoke next. “You discovered a passion,” he said. “What I’ve discovered, and I hope you have, too, is that developing a passion involves hard work – you must deeply engage yourself in a subject, learning its inner workings and investing your time and intelligence.”

Commencement 2023 marked the first such celebration for University Provost Donald Hall, who joined Binghamton in July 2022.

“You will take with you what you have learned in your classes, during simulations, through your clinical rotations, from student organizations and from the thousands of personal interactions you have had with those around you,” Hall said. “You will take all that you have experienced here and become change-makers in your profession.”

He added: “We are all living in a different world since the pandemic upended our lives, but your Binghamton education and experiences will serve you well, whether you expect to continue your education or head straight into this new world’s workforce, which is in dire need of your knowledge and skills.”

After University Alumni Association President Scott Feuer ’90 addressed the audience, Decker College’s student speaker John Atkinson took the stage.

Atkinson admitted that he dropped out of the first college he went to before he was kicked out for non-attendance. On his second try, at a community college, Atkinson had to meet with the president to convince her he was worthy of a second chance.

He was very persuasive. She told him, “I believe in you. Now, go show me.”

Show her he did. Atkinson eventually made his way to Binghamton University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative neuroscience from Harpur College of Arts and Sciences in December 2021. Five months later, he entered Decker College’s Baccalaureate Accelerated Track program in nursing, a fast-track for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another major.

Atkinson excelled at Decker, maintaining a 3.9 GPA while completing clinical experiences in area healthcare facilities and working as a simulation assistant at Decker College’s Innovative Simulation and Practice Center as well as a pharmacy technician for a local pharmacy.

“Though I have accomplished a lot here, I am the least impressive student in the audience today,” Atkinson said. “I have never in my life met a group of people with more passion, compassion, capability or moral clarity. These are amazing students, amazing people, individuals with the most rock steady vision of right and wrong and goodness toward others that I have ever witnessed.”

He added: “This is a post-Covid cohort headed into the nursing business, and that means that this is a group of people who looked at a world in trouble and said, ’You know what? I think I can be of use.’”

In closing, Atkinson addressed his fellow graduates: “You are going to lead teams, find cures, save lives, build coalitions and change the face of healthcare in this country forever. You are going to change the world. And the world right now? It could use a little love. I believe in you. Now, go show me.”

Following graduation and passing the national exam required to become a registered nurse, Atkinson will be joining the Intensive Care Unit at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y.

Decker College’s graduating nursing class traditionally presents a gift to the college at Commencement. The 2023 class gift, given jointly by the Nursing Student Association and Mary E. Mahoney Nursing Support Group, is a donation to the Decker Assessment Kit Sponsorship Fund. The fund provides required assessment kits to incoming nursing students to ease some of their financial burden; kits include medical equipment required for use during clinical and simulation experiences. The gift was presented by NSA president and graduating senior Christopher Felice, and will fund three kits.

Degrees were awarded to students as they crossed the stage, with those earning Latin honors crossing first.

Prior to the event, most students received a nursing pin. Every school of nursing has a specially designed pin that represents that institution. Nurses wear these pins on their uniform as a sign of their school pride. The Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences pin identifies the school and the University and contains the words, unity, identity and excellence, as well as the symbols of the winged Pegasus and the shield.

Watch the complete ceremony.

Celebrating graduate students, awarding excellence across the college

Seven Decker College students received Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degrees at Binghamton’s Doctoral Degree Ceremony held at 3 p.m. May 10 in the Anderson Center’s Osterhout Concert Theater.

Graduates of Decker’s master’s-level programs were awarded their degrees during the Master’s Degree Ceremony at 4:30 p.m. May 12, at the Events Center, which saw master’s degrees awarded to graduates from across the University. Decker awarded a Master of Science in Nursing and/or advanced certificate in nursing to 84 individuals. The college’s Master of Public Health program graduated 19 students.

As a gift to its students, the Master of Public Health Graduate Student Organization is creating a digital yearbook that showcases the program’s 2023 graduates. The yearbook will be distributed to MPH graduates in June.

Finally, the following two award ceremonies were held May 12 (read the full article):

  • Decker’s Division of Nursing presented its student awards at 9:30 a.m. at the University’s Health Sciences Building in Johnson City (home to Decker College) and
  • Decker’s Division of Public Health held its awards ceremony at 1 p.m. in Academic Building A on the University’s Vestal campus.
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