Graduate's accomplished Commencement walk has a deeper meaning

May 09, 2024

Nicole Cyr

A college student’s drive to reach academic success and walk across the stage at Commencement has a deeper meaning for Quinnipiac’s Nicole Cyr ’24, MS ’25. For Cyr, this milestone represents not only her academic achievements but the culmination of extensive effort and perseverance to reclaim her mobility — with her first walk in public since high school.

At the School of Health Sciences Commencement ceremony on May 11, Cyr will accept her Bachelor of Science in Health Science Studies with Honors degree, graduating summa cum laude. Additionally, she was inducted into the National Honor Society for Healthcare Professions (Alpha Eta), in March 2023. Cyr has also received the Health Science Studies BS Degree Completion Program Achievement Award, which recognizes a graduating senior from this program who has shown exceptional academic achievement.

Watch Cyr cross the Commencement stage

“I’m feeling a lot of excitement. It’s just amazing that when you put in hard work and perseverance and push forward, you can accomplish great things,” said Cyr.

She is currently continuing her academic journey at Quinnipiac’s School of Business, as a graduate student pursuing a master’s in organizational leadership, with an additional concentration in healthcare management. She was recently inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the international business honor society.

Cyr’s personal journey has inspired her to devote her professional career to being a leading advocate for patient care and access to care.

As a young soccer player, Cyr sustained an injury which at first seemed relatively benign. Over time, she developed neurologic impairments impacting her strength and coordination. In 2017, a significant setback caused Cyr to become fully wheelchair-bound, making it difficult to continue in-person undergraduate studies at another university.

Despite these obstacles, and the long journey toward her regaining strength and mobility, Cyr remained committed to earning her degree. She sought online courses that could accommodate her frequent medical appointments and treatment.

“I needed an online program that would allow me to go to school despite the medical situation,” said Cyr.

Cyr said she found the ideal opportunity in Quinnipiac’s online academic community.

“I was so grateful that Quinnipiac had the online program so I could complete my schooling,” said Cyr, who became a Bobcat in 2021.

At Quinnipiac, Cyr has excelled in her study of healthcare management, strategic planning and partnership between healthcare entities and those whom they serve, as well as patient advocacy, healthcare system efficiency, and the promotion of patient-centered care and experiences.

In addition to her academic accolades, Cyr is President-elect of Quinnipiac’s student chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), a presidential member of The National Society for Leadership Success, and a member of the Graduate Student Council.

Cyr has also contributed to the university’s commitment to accessibility and equity for students.

In 2023, she became an inaugural member of Quinnipiac University’s Accessibility Council, for which she contributes feedback to administration on campus accessibility.

Two months ago, Cyr was accepted as one of only 25 students to participate in the inaugural Ehlers-Danlos Society ECHO Healthcare Student Program. The society supports healthcare professionals in improving their abilities to provide enhanced care for people with Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, hypermobility spectrum disorders, and associated symptoms and conditions.

She also plans to speak and serve as a rare disease ambassador at the upcoming 10th Annual Rare Disease Symposium hosted by Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine and Connecticut Children’s Research Institute this October.

Additionally, in her volunteer work as an advocate, Cyr is a member of the Patient and Family Advocacy Council and is an ambassador for Hospital for Special Care (HFSC) in New Britain, Connecticut.

HFSC is the fourth largest, free-standing long-term acute care hospital in the U.S. and one of only two in the nation serving both adults and children. Cyr said she is exceptionally grateful for the devotion and expertise the team at HFSC has invested in her journey to regain her mobility.

At her Commencement on the Mount Carmel Campus, Cyr intends to walk, with assistance from her physical therapist, to accept her degree. The two have been working together for years to improve her mobility and function. Over the past several months, the goal of walking for graduation has been their primary focus.

“Throughout the training process, I was committed to doing what needed to be done to be prepared and be able to walk across the stage at my graduation,” said Cyr.

Cyr’s parents and brother will be there to proudly share in the excitement of the moment. Cyr said her family, from a young age, has encouraged her to tackle hurdles as they are presented, such as navigating the medical and educational system, to push forward and don’t let anything stop you. They have also been her cheering section throughout Cyr’s long road to recovery, which has included wheeling the MahoneySabol 5K at the Travelers Championship and the Eversource Hartford Marathon 5K.

Cyr describes that the challenges she has experienced have contributed to building the path that has led to her purpose.

“I want to be a leader who can help improve access and quality of care for patients,” Cyr said.

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