nursing schoolTo a graduating class eager to head off and change the world, Dean Patricia M. Davidson, PhD, MEd, RN, offered a bit of sobering wisdom hammered home by the recent plight of Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped before their final exams: The world often fears and resents the bringers of change.

Bring it anyway, she encouraged the group of new Johns Hopkins School of Nursing grads gathered at Turner Auditorium on the university’s East Baltimore campus.

“You are the drivers of healthcare change and innovation. You are to be the nurses who will dare to be different and change the world,” Davidson told the Class of 2014. “The nursing profession is in a state of change. We are diversifying in skills and settings, increasing in diversity, and responding to the challenges of contemporary society.

“Appreciating diversity and difference and deviating from the mainstream challenges many individuals,” she added, reflecting on the recent New York Times commentary “What’s So Scary About Smart Girls?” In it, Nicholas Kristof offered a chilling answer to a question so many across the world have been asking about the Nigerian kidnappings: Why?

“That’s what extremists do,” Kristoff wrote. “They target educated girls, their worst nightmare … there’s no force more powerful to transform a society.”

Davidson noted a similar fear behind arguments over the Affordable Care Act, which  “challenges traditional power bases and the status quo. … Not many people you would go up to on the street would deny that it is a human right for everyone to have access to healthcare, but the vitriolic discussion and debate we have seen is astounding.”

Into these trying times go the graduates of 2014: doctor of philosophy and doctor of nursing practice; master of science in nursing; joint master of science in nursing and master of business administration; joint master of science in nursing and master of public health; bachelor of science in nursing (two cohorts, May and July 2014); and post-degree certificate. (Winners of the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award, nominated by students, were Assistant Professor Kelly Bower, PhD, MPH, RN, and Instructor Kathleen Woodruff, DNP, RN.)

In student remarks, DNP grad Cynthia Patton told the story of Ubuntu, an African philosophy whose essence is “humanity to others, connectedness, that one cannot be human in isolation. It also means, ‘I am what I am because of who we all are.’ ” It’s a fitting sentiment, she told the crowd, because “none of us achieves these accomplishments alone.”

Fellow new DNP Marlo Eldridge cited the wisdom of legendary Hopkins Nurse Maryann Fralic, DrPH, RN, FAAN, who said that to be successful nurses must “accept temporary incompetence.” Eldridge suggested that her colleagues not feel shame but rather “use the discomfort of not having all the answers to drive us to find those answers.”

Davidson urged the new grads to waste no time making their power as nurses--male and female, of different races, nationalities, and sexual orientations—felt across the globe.

nursing school“Through social media, our school is challenging all graduates nationwide to show their support for the Bring Back Our Girls campaign at their graduations,” Davidson said of a movement calling for the release of the Nigerian schoolgirls. “We are promoting our message through School of Nursing Facebook and Twitter and we invite you to be part of this conversation [using the hashtag #Grads4BringBackOurGirls].”

The dean ended by reminding the grads of the 125 years of Hopkins Nursing excellence behind them.

“Today we celebrate the achievements of a group of exceptional students who continue this tradition and uphold the School of Nursing’s values of excellence, respect, diversity, integrity and accountability. We wish you all the very best for the future. Take care of yourselves and your families. Your families will always represent your greatest achievements. Take care of the trust and value that is placed in our very noble profession. Keep well and have fun, and don’t go too far from the Hopkins family.”