Hunt School of Nursing Graduates Honored at Commencement and Pinning Ceremony

Hunt School of Nursing Graduates Honored at Commencement and Pinning Ceremony

Eighty-three students who’ve completed the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Hunt School of Nursing were recognized this morning during a commencement and pinning ceremony on campus.

During her keynote, Hunt School of Nursing Dean Stephanie L. Woods announced two graduates, Ashley Carrillo and Chelsea Holder, received individual DAISY awards, and the entire graduating class received the DAISY Team award for their bravery in patient care during the pandemic. 

The DAISY Foundation was established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died of immune thrombocytopenic purpura, an autoimmune disease. The Barnes family was impressed by the clinical skills and compassion shown by nurses who cared for Patrick. They created the international award to demonstrate appreciation to nurses, nursing students and nursing faculty for their commitment, skills and compassion.  

During the ceremony, graduates were presented with a nursing pin by a person of their choosing, usually a friend or family member. The time-honored tradition is a symbol of newly graduated nurses entering the nursing profession.

This year is especially noteworthy as Hunt School of Nursing students have earned their degree during a worldwide pandemic. As part of their education, they completed clinical rotations in local hospitals, caring for patients with COVID-19.

“I’ve never seen obstacles like the ones faced by students during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hunt School of Nursing Dean Stephanie L. Woods, R.N., Ph.D. “Our traditional students have balanced childcare, online learning, upheaval in clinical placements and reduced access to usual campus resources, like the library and Wi-Fi. Our R.N. to B.S.N. students have completed their program while being asked to work extra shifts during the pandemic. These graduates are overcomers. They’ve completed their programs while under great stress, and we could not be more proud of them. They’ve all played their part in caring for this community during the pandemic.”

This semester’s ceremony was different from previous years due to the pandemic. The ceremonywas held in a 500-seat auditorium located in the university’s new Medical Sciences Building II, and students and their pinners were socially distanced from their peers. Once each student and their pinner crossed the stage, the pair exited the auditorium to take official photographs and leave the ceremony.

“It’s so important to celebrate these graduates,” Dr. Woods said. “We want them to find joy in this moment, even with social distancing. We livestreamed the presentation of diplomas, and the rest of the program was recorded so students can return home and share with their family and friends.”

Students in the Accelerated B.S.N. program take up to 17 credit hours per semester for four successive semesters and complete 1,008 hours of required clinical rotations. The rigorous program allows students to graduate in 16 months after completing a curriculum designed for cross-disciplinary collaboration. This is the only accelerated nursing program in the region.

Students in the R.N. to B.S.N. program are already licensed nurses who have attended a community college and obtained an associate’s degree in nursing. To receive a bachelor’s degree, they complete 36 credit hours at the Hunt School of Nursing. Nurses with bachelor’s degrees have wider choices for employment and a great opportunity for promotion throughout their careers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse for the vital role they play in providing health services. TTUHSC El Paso joins the WHO in a yearlong effort to celebrate the work of nurses and highlight the challenging conditions they often face in the workforce.

In 2021, TTUHSC El Paso will celebrate the Hunt School of Nursing’s 10-year anniversary and its contributions to higher education and health care as it addresses the critical shortage of nurses in West Texas.

To date, the Hunt School of Nursing has graduated more than 800 students, with 90% of those graduates staying in the region. The school of nursing currently has partnerships with every hospital in the El Paso community, which includes both clinical rotation opportunities and job placements post-graduation. 

Currently, 75% of students who have attended the Hunt School of Nursing are El Paso natives, reflecting TTUHSC El Paso’s mission to create more educational opportunities for Borderland residents.

The state of Texas is projected to face a shortfall of nearly 16,000 registered nurses by 2030, according to a 2017 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Check out our photo gallery from the event: