Published on August 17, 2020 by Sara Roman  
nursing commencement speakers

Ida Moffett School of Nursing honored its spring and summer 2020 graduates during a virtual commencement ceremony held on August 15. The school awarded 69 bachelor’s degrees, 25 master’s degrees and 70 doctoral degrees. Graduates represented the undergraduate nursing, nurse anesthesia, nursing administration, advanced practice, family nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner with emergency nurse practitioner specialty programs.

Addressing their peers, professors, family and friends, two student speakers spoke on the topic of calling as it related to their personal lives, their ministry and the profession of nursing. Gabrielle Macke ’20, B.S.N., represented the undergraduate graduates and Gracie Julian ’20, M.S. in nurse anesthesia, represented the graduate graduating class.

“Ida Moffett School of Nursing has fostered our callings, and through hard work we have achieved our goal of becoming registered nurses. Each professor has incorporated the wisdom of Ida V. Moffett and has shared how to do more than physical healing but included emotional and spiritual aspects into nursing,” said Macke. “Our calling does not stop here, but now it begins…I know that we will rise to the challenge of this unpresented COVID-19 pandemic. I have the faith that our class has the knowledge to serve our communities and that God will never give us more than we can handle.” 

Macke further encouraged the graduates sharing the example of compassion and service Jesus set in John 13. She said “We have learned the pathophysiology, the medications and the treatments, but weaved in our courses has always been the compassion for sick. We have been blessed with this teaching so that we may go out and bless others.” 

Gracie Julian, a Master of Science in Nursing, nurse anesthesia graduate, shared that she was aware of her call to nursing for a very long time. The call to nursing spans four generations in her family - her great-grandmother, grandmother, mom and Julian have all served at the patient bedside as a nurse. 

“Each one of us today has a story, our own stories around our own callings,” said Julian. “But these pandemic days have had a way of whittling life down to what’s most important, haven’t they…These past five months have made this clear: it is all about love. It has always been and that will always be our call. Love God and love people.”

Julian shared specific examples of how faculty, staff and fellow graduates had displayed love in various ways throughout their time in the program. “As we look forward, may we look forward with hope: whatever our profession, whatever our position, whatever our circumstance, whatever we face, our call is love. And that is a call that never ends.”

Nena F. Sanders, Ida Moffett School of Nursing dean and College of Health Sciences founding vice provost, challenged the graduates to be ready, be responsive and be fruitful. 

Sanders shared Exodus 3 where Moses responds to God’s call from the burning bush. “Moses responded with a clear indication that he was ready for whatever was to come next. He did not have to prepare; he did not have to know what God wanted. Moses was ready to answer the call and he responded,” said Sanders. “When you left Samford University last spring and entered a changing and chaotic healthcare environment, you did not know you would be facing not only a burning bush, but a forest fire called a pandemic. Like Moses, you were ready for this challenge and you responded! You and other health care providers ran to the fire not away from the fire. Thank you for having the courage to care and respond at a time when your role as a nurse has never been greater.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.