Nursing graduation is a family affair

May 28, 2018, 19:34 PM by Kurt Koopmann

School of Nursing Commencement
You might say that six of the 578 graduates who received their degrees from UTMB’s School of Nursing on April 20 were “keeping it in the family” because they have family members who either work or teach at UTMB.

Student Trista Arnold was very excited to have family present for her graduation, and even more excited that her mother was there not only to support her, but to also receive her own Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

Arnold’s mother, Tonya Callender, received her nursing degree 30 years ago and has been a source of support during her time in school.

“I could not have asked for a better person to go through nursing school with,” said Arnold. “It was great to have my mom to understand and be supportive of me and to push me through when things got hard.”

Graduation day at Moody Gardens Convention Center in Galveston also was special for Trista’s mother as she received her doctoral hood from her husband, Dr. David L. Callender, UTMB’s president.

“I am very excited, it is not very often you get to watch your daughter graduate and also get your husband, who happens to be the president, to hood you,” said Callender.

The hooding ceremony is a memorable time when a faculty member places the doctoral hood over the head of the graduate, signifying their success in completing the graduate program.

School of Nursing assistant professor Rebeka Watson Campbell proudly watched as her husband, Stewart Campbell, received his Master of Science in Nursing degree.

“It is a little different for me because I did this with him four years ago when he got his baccalaureate degree,” said Watson Campbell. “When he got his degree at that time I was also on stage with him, so I have had practice.”

Graduate Allison Strawn’s father, Kenneth Strawn, is a software systems specialist at UTMB’s Moody Medical Library and through the years, Allison has had a number of other family members work at UTMB.

When asked how it felt to graduate from an institution where so many family members have worked, Strawn said, “I think all of the graduates are proud to be graduating from UTMB, but I do feel it is different when you have family members that work at UTMB and you have grown up hearing about how good of a school it is.” 

There were even more UTMB families that were filled with pride as their family members graduated.

School of Nursing assistant professor Tina Mathers, a 2011 UTMB graduate, watched as her daughter, Rachel, received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and assistant professor Jackie Aoughsten was proud as her daughter, Danielle, also received a BSN.

Regardless of their immediate connection to UTMB, the nearly 600 graduates all have become a part of an extended family of more than 12,000 who have graduated from a nursing school that began in 1890 as the John Sealy Hospital Training School for Nurses.

Commencement also was an exciting time for UTMB’s new Senior Vice President and Dean of the School of Nursing, Deborah Jones.

“I am very proud to celebrate the accomplishments of our students with their family who also happen to be our UTMB family,” Jones said. “This is truly a family affair!”