Graduate’s commitment leaves an impact on nursing and residential life

May 12, 2023

Headshot of Michael Cunningham

While he’s grateful for his exceptional leadership awards, Michael Cunningham, ’23, feels the best reward has been the chance to make a meaningful impact during his time at Quinnipiac earning his bachelor’s in nursing.

“When I stepped on campus, I said, ‘What is going to be my legacy - what am I going to do at Quinnipiac that’s going to leave an impact?’ I got involved from the beginning with our Student Nurses Association," he said. "My sophomore year, I became an RA, and further down the line, I’ve been working with the nursing living-learning community. For me, it’s been about encouraging nursing students to dig deep and get to love the profession; and really helping them along the way.”

At the School of Nursing’s pinning ceremony, Cunningham was named the 2023 recipient of the Benjamin and Juliette Adelle Trewin Award for Professional Leadership in Nursing. The award, which recognizes outstanding leadership and exceptional potential in the discipline of nursing, is given to a senior student who has made significant contributions to the nursing program and the greater community of nursing.

For his exceptional contributions to resident life, Cunningham has been named 2023 Resident Assistant (RA) of the Year. Guided by staff and resident feedback, the award recognizes his positive and meaningful contribution to the residential community by going above and beyond his duties to help build a strong community, develop innovative ideas and serve as a role model to residents and fellow staff members.

When first deciding which school to attend to study nursing, Cunningham recalled he was drawn to Quinnipiac.

“In the first place, there’s the beautiful campus; and then, there were the professors I met when I toured here," said Cunningham. "I just felt like they really cared about the program. They really believed in what we do here and also the holistic aspect of our education here. Our classes on medication or med-surg or physiology are all important; but to me, nursing is so much more than giving meds or changing a dressing. It’s really being with your patient, and it’s being present. It’s being empathetic. And that’s something that I’ve gotten here at Quinnipiac, and I’m so proud to be graduating from this university.”

Cunningham has been hired to begin his nursing career with the medical-surgical telemetry unit where he also served as an intern at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, New York.

“It’s a community hospital in my town and I’m so excited to start my career, dip my toe in and see what I like,” he said.

But first, Cunningham will give the commencement speech at the School of Nursing commencement on May 14. He said he hopes to inspire his fellow graduates to remember to practice “the art of nursing.”

“I want to talk to them about the importance of being human with your patients; the ability to connect with them on a deeper level," he said. "I want to encourage them to lead with that as we practice. Make sure you’re getting to know your patients beyond their hospital gowns. Yes, they come here with medical issues; but they also come here with a history, a lifetime of personal and career stories and family members. It’s getting to know that aspect of your patient that will really, truly help you to heal your patient. When they leave the hospital, they will feel better in mind, body, and spirit. I think that’s something that’s very special to nursing."

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