YSN Celebrates 95th Commencement with Class of 2021

May 24, 2021

Yale School of Nursing (YSN) celebrated its 95th Commencement May 21 with broad grins beaming under masks and attendees sitting six feet apart under a tent outside the school’s front door.

The change of scenery and other precautions were necessitated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, but the live cello introduction by Yale College student Julia Hu ’22 and inaugural Commencement visit by Kingman—the new Handsome Dan XIX mascot—were just for fun.

The Commencement address was delivered by The Honorable Lauren Underwood, MS, MPH, RN, FAAN. Congresswoman Underwood is serving as the U.S. Representative for Illinois’ 14th Congressional District and is one of three nurses in Congress.

Congresswoman Underwood discussed her path to the House of Representatives and her work founding the Black Maternal Health Caucus. She highlighted the new Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, historic legislation intended to save moms’ lives, end racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes, and achieve maternal health justice for Black women and all birthing people of color.

“It’s on us as nurses to speak openly about the disparities in our health system,” Congresswoman Underwood said. “It’s on us as nurse leaders to take action. This work can save lives. Together we can create lasting change in our profession and our communities, but we can’t do it without leadership.”

Congresswoman Underwood encouraged the graduates trust and own their expertise, to speak with conviction, and to move the profession and health care forward.

“We now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape a more equitable health system and save lives. And you have everything you need to lead the way.”

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Specialty student Maya Salvio, ’21 MSN presented the student address“Holding Both.”

“To be human, and to be a nurse, we are asked be able to hold seemingly conflicting feelings and experiences,” Salvio said. “We hold our frustration and our gratitude, our sadness and our love, our exhaustion and our excitement, our joy, for yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

In addition to thanking family, friends, and members of the YSN community, Salvio also extended gratitude to the group that made perhaps the biggest impact on the graduates.

“Thank you to our patients for being our true teachers, for allowing us to learn with you and from your wellbeing,” she said. “You have allowed us to build our own collages of stories, connecting flashcards in the classroom to humanity in the clinic. You inspire us.”

Inaugural Heather Dawn Reynolds Equity Award

This new award will be given annually to a YSN community member who shows an unwavering commitment to help YSN address diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. 

As Dean Ann Kurth ’90 MSN, PhD, CNM, MPH, FAAN said in her remarks, “In this last year the school has stated a commitment to recognizing, acknowledging, and combating structural racism to tap into the responsibility to engage in intersectional education, practice, and scholarship that addresses the clinical, socioeconomic, and environmental issues plaguing the health of people and the planet.”

Inaugural and namesake honoree Heather Reynolds ’80 MSN, CNM, FACNM, joined the faculty in 1986, lecturing in the nurse-midwifery specialty, and she led the nurse-midwifery practice at Yale New Haven Hospital from 1988 to 2002, caring for patients and attending the births of two generations of birthing people. 

When introducing Reynolds, Dean Kurth shared that “It was well-known that [Heather’s] patients were willing to wait for a visit with her while her schedule was double- and triple-booked, refusing to see anyone else!”

Reynolds is currently serving as the school’s student equity coordinator in the Office of DEI, sharing her wise, compassionate counsel with students, faculty, and staff alike.

Annie W. Goodrich Award for Excellence in Teaching

Named for YSN’s founding dean, this prize recognizes a faculty member who carries on Goodrich’s tradition of exceptional nursing education. This year’s honoree is Dr. Elizabeth Ann Doyle ’95 MSN, DNP, APRN, PNP-BC, BC-ADM, CDE, an Assistant Professor in the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) specialty. 

Dr. Doyle is the coordinator of the YSN Diabetes Concentration for final-year MSN students, fostering an environment that inspired Evelyn Cortes ’21 MSN and Stephanie Mora Hernandez ’21 MSN to create “Step by Step: Diabetes and the Care of Your Feet,” a video conducted entirely in Spanish. 

Milton and Anne Sidney Prize

Manjeet Kaur ’21 MSN is a senior leader at a multi-state hospice provider, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) research project sought to create safe access to standard of care opiate treatment for patients requiring pain management for cancer and for end-of-life care.

Through scholarly inquiry, evidence-based practice application, implementation science, use of technology and executive leadership competencies, Kaur innovated a new organizational system for opioid prescribing practice in hospices across 35 states. Her project is sustainable and nationally scalable in a variety of settings, and her results demonstrate improved access and clinical safety for these overlooked populations.

Charles King, Jr., Memorial Scholars Aid Prize

Family Nurse Practitioner Madeline Carrellas ’21 MSN is the recipient of this award, which honors her outstanding performance in scholarship, research, and clinical practice, and admiration for professional work. Carrellas is currently working on a whopping 11 research projects, and Dean Kurth described her drive and insatiable appetite for learning and educating as simply unmatched.

Share Your Commencement Memories

Learn more about outstanding YSN graduates in a special section of YaleNews, and view a slideshow from the YSN Commencement Ceremony. See and share photos on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook using hashtags #YaleNursing2021 and #Yale2021. 

Publicly posted photos tagged with #Yale2021 and #YaleNursing2021 may be selected for Yale’s or YSN’s official Instagram Stories and/or featured on the Yale 2021 website or the YSN website. 

For a recording of the day’s festivities, stay tuned to the YSN YouTube channel.

Congratulations to all our graduates!