Yale Nursing Alumni Share Advice for the Class of 2024

May 13, 2024

Preparations are currently underway for Yale University’s 323rd commencement, a tradition that includes splendid pageantry, meticulously planned tulip patterns, and a cloud of confetti streaming down onto the apricot velvet hoods of Yale School of Nursing (YSN) graduates.

In preparation for the next generation of Yale nurses and midwives advancing the school’s mission of better health for all people, alumni from across the previous six decades have weighed in to share their advice for the Class of 2024.

Responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

YSN Class of 1967Carol J. Kromberg Scales ’67 MSN, RN, PhD

Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing

Yep, 52 years. Realize that your nursing education from Yale is a gift (you paid for it on many levels, but it is still a gift). Every time you accept a new career challenge, see it as an opportunity to share the gift.  Stay patient-focused, no matter what policies and politics say. The Yale gift will open many doors, but not all of them should be walked through. Use your critical thinking skills to full advantage, not just at the bedside but at the conference table. 

Limit your contact with “complainers.” Negativity is the most contagious of nosocomial infections in a hospital! Best wishes and congratulations!

YSN Class of 1977Shirley Girouard ’77 MSN

Medical-Surgical CNS

Love what you do! Persevere, speak out, and always work from evidence in all aspects of your life and work!

YSN Class of 1982Luc R. Pelletier ’82 MSN

Adult Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing

Congratulate yourselves! The feelings of accomplishment you have today will reside with you forever and will serve as a foundation for things to come. You have been extraordinarily well-prepared! May you cherish the indefatigable spirit bestowed on you at Yale—now, go and seize the world to ensure better health for all!

YSN Class of 1985Judy Ahlheim Beal ’85 MSN

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

1. Never say “Never!” I was never going to get a doctoral degree and was never going to go into academia or become a dean, for sure!

2. Challenge yourself to take calculated but at times scary risks.

3. Become professionally active and assume leadership roles. 

4. Figure out what values guide your life and try to live by them. Relationships have always been important to me. That was reinforced for me at YSN where the curriculum was guided by the theoretical framework of Hildegard Peplau.

5. Become a strategic and visionary thinker. Communicate your ideas clearly and with passion.

6. Always be kind and humble.

YSN Class of 1991Sara A. Fisher ’91 MSN

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing

All of nursing is about the relationship between you and your patients. As nurses, we can empower our patients to want to attain physical, mental, and spiritual health and well-being. By modeling good self-care and staying resilient, we can be a reflection of positive energy and hopefulness for our patients, who may be in medical and/or psychological crisis. Be that beacon that lights the path to healing and recovery.

My wish for you: May you all experience the joy I have felt in the nursing profession. Nursing education at YSN was the best decision I have ever made.

YSN Class of 1997Lisa Rudzinsky Keeler ’97 MSN

Pediatric Acute Care

Take your time and be patient with yourself as you start your careers. Never be afraid to ask questions and ask for help when you need it. Be kind to yourself and to others!

YSN Class of 2002Erin Morelli ’02 MSN


Associate Dean of Student Life

Congratulations Class of 2024! My first piece of advice is to take time to nurture yourself and recognize your accomplishment as a YSN graduate! Second, identify those in your life network who can be your biggest fans and resources and lean on them—particularly in the first year after graduation, as you begin to apply all that you have learned into your career. Last, keep in touch with each other and with YSN, and once you are settled, be open to precepting and supporting the students who are coming to YSN after you! 

YSN Class of 2015Katherine Bryden ’15 MSN


Don’t let your job rob your family of your time, energy, and presence. If you have kids, prioritize spending time with them when they are small. There will always be more patients, or one more research paper to write, but you only get your kids as a toddler or an awkward 14-year-old for one year, so don’t squander those years working 60 hours a week and giving your kids whatever scraps are left over.

More Commencement Coverage

To read more student profiles and advice from six decades of YSN alumni to the Class of 2024, please visit the Commencement 2024 sidebar on the left (mobile devices, scroll down).

For more information on Yale’s commencement festivities, please visit commencement.yale.edu.