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Class of 2022 student speaker Jasmine Medina, BSN '22, at the microphone during commencement the ceremony

On May 5, the UIC College of Nursing sent another 344 graduates out to join or advance their careers in the field of nursing.

And for the first time since 2019, the ceremony was in person, at the Credit Union 1 Arena on the Chicago campus, with a live-stream option for friends and family to attend virtually.

At the event led by Dean Eileen Collins, PhD, RN, FAAN, ATSF, guest keynote speaker Phyllis Meadows, PhD, RN, senior fellow with the Kresge Foundation, honored the graduates’ perseverance in striving for a nursing degree during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can’t begin to imagine the layers of confusion and uncertainty that you may have experienced these past few years while learning and preparing for your professional roles,” Meadows said, “[but] your presence here today is an ultimate testimony to the commitment and resolve that you have to be at the forefront of service in your communities.”

“What you have been able to achieve at this moment in history is noteworthy,” she added. “You stayed the course, and for that, there will be many, many grateful souls. You will help us recover and heal.”

Graduates also heard from the college’s 2022 Distinguished Alumna Sue Penckofer, PhD ’93, MS ’82, BSN ’79, professor emerita at Loyola University Chicago’s Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Like Meadows, she also referenced the persistence needed to obtain a nursing degree during a pandemic.

“Congratulations on successfully completing your education during those times, with those challenges, as those of us who graduated years ago could not have even imagined,” she said.

Penckofer offered the advice that, “Communication and listening will always be the key to your success,” then closed by welcoming graduates to the UIC College of Nursing alumni community.

The most talked-about moment of the ceremony came near the end, courtesy of student speaker Jasmine Medina, BSN ’22. She remarked that “diversity in the College of Nursing is more than just a core value,” and noted that the college “viewed us in a holistic manner, and saw that we had passion, potential and persistence.”

Then Medina asked her fellow graduates to stand if they “fit in any of these four categories: if you are a minority student, first-generation student, a Dreamer, or if you are bilingual or trilingual.”

It appeared that perhaps 80% of the graduates in attendance rose, to an explosion of cheers and applause.

“We will have a lot to contribute to the healthcare field,” Medina told both graduates and guests.

Earlier in the event, graduates also heard inspirational remarks from Collins, University of Illinois System president Timothy Killeen and UIC chancellor Michael Amiridis.

The UIC College of Nursing congratulates all graduates of the Class of 2022!