Two ceremonies launch RU graduates on health care careers

As part of the 2015 Spring Commencement weekend, Radford University graduates who will enter the allied health care field were awarded the symbols of their readiness Friday at a pair of events.

Twenty-one graduates of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program joined family, friends and faculty to affix the pin signifying completion of the program to their white coats at a ceremony in Heth Hall. In the Bondurant Auditorium, 50 graduates of the BSN program joined 20 graduates of the RN-BSN program to be pinned.

"It is a big deal," said Kara Ennist of Chesterfield who will be a nurse on a Lakeland, Florida hospital trauma unit. "We wear the pin on our badges and that tells everyone where we come from and who taught us to be nurses."

Ashley Jackson of Christiansburg was pinned by her mother Kristie, BSN '94 and MSN-FNP '06, and her aunt, Jennifer Poole BSN '96. In the audience was Aunt Denise, another Radford University BSN graduate and niece Meghan McFee, a rising senior in the BSN program.

Kristi talked about their shared experience as Radford graduates. They had many of the same faculty and both recalled being on stage for the pinning where the roles were reversed and daughter pinned mother. Ashley will soon join a hospital trauma unit at a Roanoke hospital.

"I am proud, excited and nostalgic. She is a Radford graduate and that has a very positive reputation, recognized as among the best of the best," said Jackson.

Aunt Jennifer noted that while the campus has changed, the nursing program remained constant, saying, "We now share the common professional foundation we got here that makes good nurses."

At the DPT pinning ceremony, Cameron Lephew '12, DPT '15, represented his class of 2015 and said, "Above all, the RU DPT program has taught us to give our best and question the limits of our profession."

Lephew was pinned by his father, Wade '79, who said," We appreciate the education Cameron has received at Radford University, both undergraduate and doctorate. It has given him an opportunity to be of service. In a way, it he found his calling at Radford University."

Cameron will be joining Advanced Physical Therapy of Virginia in Salem in outpatient orthopedics after graduation.

Founding Chair Ed Swanson, who steered the program from inception to accreditation, keynoted the DPT ceremony and Cara Delp was named the DPT Student of the Year. Department Chair Kristen Jagger said, "It is a pleasure to see their achievements come to fruition and watch as they begin their careers."


Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2015

Along with pinning its Class of 2015, the School of Nursing acknowledged six award winners:

  • Cierra Falls, winner of both the Scholastic Excellence Award and Janice S. Mooney Excellence in Pediatrics Award.
  • Susan Gibbs, winner of the Kitty Parker Smith Leadership Award
  • Teresa Williamson, winner of the Janet Hardy Boettcher Nursing Excellence Award
  • Alex Deranzis, winner of the Marcella Griggs Excellence in Geriatric Nursing Award
  • Crystal Hubbard, winner of the Mildred Hopkins RN Excellence in Nursing Award.

Captain Annette Beadle '85, deputy director of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, opened the ceremony by quoting Mark Twain who said that the two most important days in one's life are when you are born and when you find what you are born for

"As nurses, you are on the way to figuring out why you were born," said Beadle who was pinned on the same stage.

"It seems that the culture has not changed and that the university is still producing talented, capable graduates in many fields," she said.

She then drew on her 30 years experience in the Navy to bid the graduates "fair winds and following seas as you start your nursing careers"


Laureen Gardner receives her pin from her mother and father at Friday's ceremonies for the School of Nursing.

May 8, 2015