By Katherine Tam
Photography by Elisabeth Fall
Amid enthusiastic cheers and applause, the UCSF School of Nursing celebrated the accomplishments of 160 doctoral candidates, master’s degree students and post-master students at the 2019 Commencement.
Dean Catherine L. Gilliss, PhD, RN, FAAN, congratulated the graduating Class of 2019 and welcomed their families and friends who packed Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco for the occasion. UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, Executive Vice Dean Catherine Lucey, MD, and Dean of the Graduate Division Elizabeth Watkins, PhD, also lauded the students for their achievements.
Monica McLemore, PhD, MPH, assistant professor in Family Health Care Nursing, delivered this year’s commencement address, encouraging the graduating students to “change your relationship with the word ‘never’ and use the power that you have.”
"Unapologetically share who you are, who you are becoming, and why that matters.Nursing is an art, a science, a world view and a profession," McLemore said. "It is also dynamic and the people we are lucky enough to serve deserve better. We all do. Let’s commit to unleashing the creativity of humanity."
Michele Stephens, a graduating doctoral student, and Denisse Porter, a graduating Master of Science student, were the two student speakers.
Student and Faculty Awards
In recognition of their outstanding work, awards were presented to the following students:
- Daniel Linnen received the Distinguished Dissertation Award, which is presented to the student whose dissertation best exemplifies scholarship and innovation and best contributes to the discipline of nursing. Linnen, whose dissertation is entitled “Alert Driven Rescue: Do In-Hospital Sepsis Interventions Following an Advanced Early Warning System Alert Differ Substantially Between Descendants and Survivors?,” has evaluated one of the first advanced “big data” early warning systems deployed at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California and is investigating whether sepsis interventions, relative to an alert by the early warning system, may improve sepsis survival.
- Francisco Alvarez received the Outstanding Master of Science Student Award, which is presented to the student who has demonstrated leadership, scholarship and specialty expertise. Alvarez has distinguished himself with his leadership, compassion and commitment to children at risk for health challenges at the emergency department at Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno. He was also instrumental in developing new contracts at Community Regional Medical Central in Fresno and at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera to support UCSF nurse practitioner students.
- Denisse Porter was honored with the Nursing Student Award for Meritorious Service, which is presented by the UCSF Nursing Alumni Association to a student for significant service to the community. Porter’s determination, dedication and service is highlighted by her commitment to social justice and inclusion and equity. She spearheaded numerous initiatives and conversations among students, faculty, staff and UCSF leadership, volunteered with the Diversity in Action Committee (DIVA), co-founded the Nursing Students of Color and was president of the Associated Students of the School of Nursing. She was instrumental in launching FirstGenRN, which celebrates and supports first-generation college students in nursing.
For contributions above and beyond the call of duty, Audrey Lyndon, PhD, RN, FAAN, received the Doctoral Program’s Faculty Mentor of the Year Award, and Elizabeth Gatewood, DNP, RN, FNP, received the Master of Science Program’s Excellence in Teaching Award.
A posthumous degree was awarded to student Emma Deboncoeur, who passed away in 2018. Her parents received her degree at the ceremony.
In her honor, her friends and family raised funds for an annual scholarship to be awarded to a student whose work supports the health and well-being of transgender individuals. During the commencement ceremony, Dean Gilliss announced that the first scholarship will be awarded to Kristen Clark, a doctoral student in nursing whose dissertation is entitled “Examining gender minority people’s experiences of stressors in health care and the effects this may have on psychological distress.”