Nursing graduates implored to be heroes

May 20, 2018

Students celebrate graduation

Victoria Arlen, who overcame two rare conditions that left her paralyzed and powerless for four years, urged the Class of 2018 to be fearless and confident on May 20 at the School of Nursing Undergraduate Commencement at the TD Bank Sports Center.

Arlen, a professional athlete, ESPN sportscaster, public speaker, model and veteran of “Dancing with the Stars,” was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters at the ceremony.

“Heroes in life don’t wear masks and capes; most of them they don’t stand out at all,” Arlen told the 217 graduates. “The real heroes in life are the ones that whisper in your ear, ‘You can do it. You can do it.’”

Arlen said nursing is the most admired profession in the world. She also talked about how one particular nurse named Daniele changed her prognosis — and her future.

“Daniele, my superstar nurse, spoke with me, painted my nails and treated me like a human — not like an object or as if I wasn’t there,” Arlen said. “She didn’t know if I knew what was going on. But that didn’t stop her from going above and beyond in caring for me, and to give her time to make sure I felt safe. To me, that is someone I would define as a hero.”

Arlen nearly followed in her father’s footsteps at Quinnipiac, but life had other plans for her.

“Three years ago, I dreamed of becoming a Bobcat, but on the eve of making that big decision, a little network by the name of ESPN came calling,” said Arlen, whose father, Larry Arlen, is an alumnus and became Quinnipiac’s first scholarship ice hockey player in 1976.

President John L. Lahey, who is retiring in June after 31 years at Quinnipiac, thanked his wife during his remarks to the Class of 2018. Judy Lahey, a former nurse, is the longest-serving first lady of Quinnipiac and has selflessly served the university community with her husband.

Jean Lange, the founding dean of the School of Nursing, addressed her students for the final time Sunday. She also will retire in June.

“Patients let you into their lives in ways I never expected,” said Lange, who presented Lahey with the same nursing pin as the school’s graduates. “I have been privileged to share some of their most intimate moments. And they have certainly made a difference in my life.”

“I don’t know what your nursing journey will bring, but I can tell you it will be challenging, rewarding and full of opportunities,” Lange said. “You will grow, you will learn and you will give of yourself. But you will receive so much more in return.”

Karl Ralf Eisermann ‘18 delivered the response of the Class of 2018.

“We have been given the tools to be successful,” Eisermann said. “In times of fear, we will be comforting. In times of crisis, we will be calm. In times of weakness, we will show strength. And in times of despair, we will give hope. We were put on this Earth to be nurses, each and every one of us. We did not choose the profession of nursing. Nursing chose us.”

Chris Ann Meaney '13 welcomed the newest graduates to the alumni community.

The School of Nursing Commencement was the fifth of six undergraduate ceremonies the university hosted on May 19 and 20. In all, there were 1,626 undergraduate degree candidates from six schools:

  • 353 in the College of Arts and Sciences

  • 430 in the School of Business

  • 186 in the School of Communications

  • 65 in the School of Engineering

  • 440 in the School of Health Sciences

  • 217 in the School of Nursing

In addition, Quinnipiac awarded a total of 1,244 degrees to graduate, law and medical students on May 12 and 13.

Quinnipiac is a dynamic, three-campus university where professors who want to know students by name come to teach, and where students who want a personal, challenging education come to learn.

Located in Southern New England, Quinnipiac’s top-rated academics, low faculty-to-student ratio and Division I athletics are just some of the reasons why it is consistently ranked among the best universities by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. It is one of 100 universities to have both a law school and a medical school with the opening of the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine in 2013, and its Polling Institute is respected by media organizations around the globe.

Faculty members are experts in their fields and generous with their time. The university enrolls 7,000 full-time undergraduate and 3,000 graduate and part-time students in 110 degree programs through its Schools of Business, Communications, Education, Engineering, Health Sciences, Law, Medicine, Nursing and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Throughout its rich history, Quinnipiac has remained true to its three core values: high-quality academic programs, a student-oriented environment and a strong sense of community.

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