GALVESTON, Texas – For six of the 578 graduates receiving their degrees from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston School of Nursing, the day will be extra special since family members either work or teach at UTMB. You might say they are all, “keeping it in the family.”

Student Trista Arnold is very excited to have family present for her graduation, and even more excited that her mother will be 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 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 also will be special for Trista’s mother as she receives 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 will be proudly watching as her husband, Stewart Campbell, receives 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 quite a number of other family members work at UTMB.

When asked how it will feel graduating 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 a school it is.” 

There are more UTMB families that will be filled with pride as their family members graduate.

School of Nursing assistant professor Tina Mathers a 2011 UTMB graduate will be watching as her daughter Rachel, receives her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and assistant Professor Jackie Aoughsten will be proud as her daughter, Danielle also receives a BSN.

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

Commencement will be 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. This is truly going to be a family affair!”

WHERE:  Moody Gardens Convention Center in Galveston
WHEN:  3 p.m. Friday, April 20