The New Class: YSN Celebrates Admitted Student Days

February 17, 2021

Yale School of Nursing (YSN) virtually hosted Admitted Student Days on February 12 and 15, engaging with members of the first incoming class to choose the profession against the backdrop of the relentless COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Last year, the world called upon us in a way it hasn’t in generations, and you answered,” said Dean Ann Kurth, ’90 MSN, PhD, CNM, MPH, FAAN. “You will begin your graduate nursing studies as the world grapples with a mass vaccination campaign (including in the building right next door on West Campus) while also trying to prevent the next pandemic.”

In her opening remarks, Executive Deputy Dean and Professor of Nursing Carmen Portillo, PhD, RN, FAAN, touted the instructors at the front of the classroom as a great reason to choose YSN.

“Faculty here are some of the hardest working faculty I have met. They teach, maintain a clinical practice—they do whatever they can—so you succeed,” Portillo said. “They live up to the philosophical beginnings of YSN: scientifically informed, technically expert, and socially experienced.”

Student Life and Belonging

Associate Dean of Student Life and Belonging Saveena Dhall saluted the future nurses for their choice of profession.

“You and your upcoming journey to become a Yale nurse signifies profound hope and light, especially at a time when we cannot overstate the exceptional need for nurses,” Dhall said. “I know that you and your contributions will significantly impact the profession and the communities you serve.”

Dhall hosted a panel of current students in multiple specialties to provide a broad sense of the YSN student experience. Jenna Bourgeois ’21 MSN, Allison Butler ’21 MSN, Sydney Greenberg ’21 MSN, and Kwaku Gyasi ’23 MSN candidly fielded inquiries about graduate life at YSN.

Lecturer of Nursing and Student Equity Coordinator Heather Reynolds ’80 MSN, CNM, FACNM of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion used her remarks to share that YSN strives to encourage every student.

“We are here to support all students, and especially students from underrepresented populations,” Reynolds said. In nursing, those populations include men, students who identify as LGBTQ, students from racial or ethnic minority groups, students with disability, international students, and first-generation individuals. 

Exploring Programs and Specialties

Chair-Elect of the Graduate Entry Prespecialty in Nursing (GEPN) program Sascha James-Conterelli, DNP, CNM, LM, FACNM, joined forces with GEPN Program Manager Colleen Colbert, MS, MBA, CGE to share details about the program, discussing clinicals, textbooks, expectations, and even scrubs.

An RN-MSN Roundtable live session featured current students Goetti Fancois ’21 MSN and Clement Hill ’21 MSN and alumna Christa Varnadoe ’20 MSN to share their program experiences. Lecturer in Nursing Wendy Mackey ’93 MSN, APRN-BC, CORLN, and Director of the Midwifery Faculty Practice Erin Morelli, ’02 MSN, CNM, CLC, RN, FACNM, chimed in with the faculty perspective. Specialty directors and faculty also hosted Zoom lunches, providing an opportunity for admitted students to ask questions specific to each area of expertise. 

Facilities and Funding

Simulation Director Virginia “Ginger” Sherrick, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, RN-BC, CHSE, CNE, introduced attendees to the rest of the team and simulation facilities during her live tour. Students participate in a multitude of simulations throughout their years at YSN, and the program usually include one mass-casualty event that collaborates with local police and EMS. Previous mass-casualty simulations have included a building collapse and the aftermath of a tornado.

The two days of programming also included a virtual tour of the Yale University main campus through the Visitor Center.

Assistant Director of Financial Aid Wesley E. Revangil provided an overview of funding sources and criteria in his Financial Aid 101 presentation.  

“This group asked such thoughtful questions, and I hope I was able to demystify the financial aid process,” Revangil said. “There are so many details to keep in mind, and our goal is to help students feel confident in YSN as their choice for the next step in their careers. As I shared in the session, I encourage all students to contact the office of financial aid at with any and all questions.”

Admitted students also took advantage of the chance to check-in with Director of Enrollment Management and Registrar Jana Buck

“It was an absolute pleasure to meet, and in many cases connect again, with such a brilliant and engaged group of admitted students,” Buck said. “They all bring such a wide range of experience and passion to nursing! It is especially inspiring knowing that they chose this profession despite the ongoing greatest public health crisis in a century. I look forward to welcoming them to West Campus in the fall and more importantly observe their YSN journey as they become nurses committed to providing better health for all people.”

What Comes Next

Admitted students have until February 22 to elect to enroll in YSN for the fall semester.