With another academic year behind us, it is time to take a collective breath and pause. True, our work does not slow; but it is important that the longer days and a quieter campus remind us of all that we have and hope to accomplish in our time at UNCG.
This spring, we completed review of student applications and offered fall admission to many new students, who will soon join our ranks. Freshmen, who will no doubt undergo tremendous transformation as they set out on the life-changing journey we provide them. Sophomores, who have worked hard for two years for admission to the nursing major. Transfer students, who have come to UNCG looking for something more academically and professionally. Graduate students, who want to reach the pinnacle of academic achievement. Each and every student entrusts us with his or her future. What a wonderful and meaningful challenge.
When you are a champion of higher education, few things are as satisfying as celebrating the accomplishments of our graduating students and sending them out into the world to do what we have prepared them to do. School of Nursing students are ready, from day one, not only because they have successfully completed their programs of study, but also because of what they accomplished outside of class along the way.
Many of our students pursue transformative, out-of-classroom experiences that extend their education, help them gain critical leadership skills, and engrain a commitment to lifelong learning and service. Let me give you two stellar examples in which our students formed new groups that focus on student success.
Nursing students Kendra Hopkins and Demarkus Steward led an initiative to establish a chapter of 1st G, an organization that supports first-generation college students. As a first-generation student myself, I know that parents and family members do their best to guide and support their children throughout their studies, but they do not have firsthand knowledge about college and student life. The mission of the 1st G organization is to generate pride in UNCG's first-generation status by fostering service to the community and providing a support network among first-generation students. I was pleased to see this important organization succeed in its very first year.
Nursing students Stephanie Faulk and Oriana Robertson started a new student group on campus called National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. The students participating in this group created a colorful array of pinwheels, which they displayed on the EUC Lawn at Kaplan Commons to symbolize the 1,100 college students lost to suicide each year. This event coincided with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 to draw attention to the need for awareness and a proactive response to the threat of suicide. The NAMI student organization hosted a number of other events as well: Alcohol Free Fun Fest; a kitchen item collection for Sanctuary House; a Winter Showcase to disseminate information on suicide prevention; and Blue Shoes, a mental health movement, at UNCG to raise awareness of the challenges of persons with mental illness.
When our students engage in service projects on campus and across the community — in addition to their demanding studies — just think of what they are going to accomplish as newly minted licensed nurses. Kendra, Demarkus, Stephanie and Oriana are going to change the world! That is why our work for and your partnership with the UNCG School of Nursing is so critical. The world needs exceptionally prepared, caring, engaged leaders who roll up their sleeves and bring about positive change.
As we congratulate the Class of 2015 and look ahead to our next incoming class, I am so proud of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends — and excited to see what 2015-16 will bring.
Robin E. Remsburg, PhD, FAAN, FGSA, FNGNA
Dean and Professor of the School of Nursing