Nursing celebrates golden anniversary of its first graduating class

April 14, 2023

School of Nursing guests celebrate 50th anniversary of first graduating class

Half a century of distinction was on display as the Quinnipiac School of Nursing celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first graduating class with an event that showcased the innovation and collaboration the school is renowned for in the healthcare community.

Guests including alumni representing the classes of 1972 to 2022, gathered at the School of Nursing’s North Haven Campus during the evening of Thursday, April 13 for the 50th Anniversary Celebration and Showcase, marking the culmination of a yearlong tribute that began with an evening reception during Bobcat Weekend in September.

“From that first class of 18 graduates in 1972, the Quinnipiac nursing community has grown to include faculty leaders, clinicians, scholars, healthcare partners and researchers. Take a moment to pause and think about what this event really means,” said School of Nursing Dean Lisa O’Connor. “We are here tonight as a reminder of how important nursing is to the fabric of our country and our world. And how Quinnipiac certainly has contributed to that effort over the past 50 years.”

Alumni, faculty present past and future of nursing profession

As guests mingled and long-time friends reunited, alumni and faculty shared their achievements in an Experiential Showcase highlighting the depth and breadth of impact the School of Nursing has had on patient care, leadership development and improving community health.

The showcase began with welcoming remarks from Dean O’Connor and a congratulatory response from Quinnipiac Provost Debra Liebowitz and Hartford HealthCare Executive Vice President and and Chief Nursing Officer MaryEllen Kosturko.

“Tonight is a celebration, not of an individual, but of the ways that individuals can come together in a community to create something that's strong, valuable and makes a difference in all of the right ways,” said Liebowitz. “As we celebrate today, we also look forward to the next 50 years of seeing excellence at Quinnipiac.”

Woven throughout the Experiential Showcase presentations were illustrations of the School of Nursing’s ongoing dedication to its three pillars — holism, interprofessionalism and inclusivity -- which serve as a foundation for the growth and development of the school’s curriculum, scholarship, teaching and service activities.

“We're committed to advancing the School of Nursing’s mission and the principles of holism, interprofessionalism and inclusivity that have guided our nursing education for the past 50 years,” said Liebowitz. “I've seen those principles in action during the hardest of times...They have helped us to adapt and thrive in a constantly changing healthcare environment. And I am absolutely convinced that they will continue to serve us into the future.”

Offering a congratulatory message on behalf of Hartford HealthCare, Kosturko underscored the importance of collaborating with partners who share the same commitments and guiding principles for the benefit of the greater community.

“Your values and core principles that you live daily are what sets this school apart from other schools and organizations…. This sets a profound commitment to equity, inclusion and belonging, which aligns with Hartford Healthcare's mission, vision and values as your close partner and ally in bridging healthcare disparities in our communities,” said Kosturko. “On behalf of Hartford Healthcare…I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Quinnipiac School of Nursing family. We are forever grateful for the work that you have done and continue to do to improve our healthcare systems and elevate our profession.”

Associate Dean Lisa Rebeschi served as emcee of the Experiential Showcase which began with a special presentation on the history of the nursing profession and concluded with an overview of how educational technologies are directly impacting classroom instruction and clinical skill development. 

Associate professor emerita faculty member, Mary Ann Cordeau, ASN ’81, BSN ‘86, set the stage for the showcase by providing the historical context on the evolution of the nursing profession and explored the social, political and economic factors that have shaped nursing education since its inception in the 1870s.

Cordeau was followed by School of Nursing faculty members Sheila Molony and Tyler Traister who presented a snapshot of the exemplary work School of Nursing faculty continue to spearhead within the healthcare community including impactful programs within the LGBTQ+ and aging populations.

With a continued focus on innovation, several invited alumni presented their achievements in combining healthcare knowledge and business acumen to launch successful entrepreneurial ventures that center on optimal patient care and delivery. Sharing their personal stories of how Quinnipiac provided the foundation to pursue their dreams were Connecticut Primary Care and Wellness founder Ines Zemaitis, DNP ’19; Mobile Care Partners of Connecticut founder Lindsey Maloney, DNP ’16, and Siena Giordano, BSN ’12, DNP ’18; and Magnolia Med Spa founder Amanda Scranton, BSN ’06, MSN ’12. 

Director of Community Engagement Pina Violano, ASN ‘81, BSN ’86, highlighted the School of Nursing’s extensive public outreach programs that address an array of topics including community health fairs, screenings for heart disease, firearm safety programs, CPR training, bike safety and disaster preparedness.

Building off of the themes of skill development and collaboration, Director of Laboratory and Simulation Operations Darlene Rogers, BSN ‘16, and Simulation Director Liana Kappus took the stage to demonstrate how the School of Nursing is able to leverage the latest in educational technologies to enhance learning in Quinnipiac’s nursing simulation labs.

The showcase concluded on a poignant note with sisters Brielle and Eliana Jewel ’22 sharing a reflection on behalf of the Class of 2022, the school’s 50th graduating class. Eliana closed the event by reading a special message to the guests from nursing alumna Jean Inge ’72, a member of the nursing program’s first graduating class.

“To be a Quinnipiac graduate certainly paved the way for me to become an RN eventually earning my BSN and MSN degrees,” wrote Inge. “Gratefully, this beginning also gave me the privilege to be a member of the first Quinnipiac nursing class of 1972. I believe we all share in this honor, and I wish everyone an enjoyable and historic anniversary celebration.”

For Leona Konieczny ’74, the evening was an opportunity to reconnect with her alma mater, visit with friends and celebrate the nursing profession as a whole. After graduating from Quinnipiac, Konieczny spent the first 20 years of her career in critical care before switching to gerontology and earning a doctorate in 2013. Today, Konieczny is director of graduate studies in the nursing at the University of Hartford.

“When I was a student, the nursing program had just launched. We held classes in a trailer on the Mount Carmel Campus. And now just look at this place. It’s state-of-the-art,” said Konieczny. “Despite those humble beginnings, my time at Quinnipiac shaped me, not only as a nurse but personally. I learned to meet each patient where they are, to be nonjudgmental and to accept everyone. My time here taught me how to handle the hard work that goes into being a nurse. I tell students today that it’s a wonderful career that you can really invest yourself in.”

As the evening came to a close, guests were invited to mingle, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and joined together to raise their glasses in a celebratory toast to honor the past and future of Quinnipiac University’s School of Nursing.

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