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Summer Convocation highlights rich experience of adult learners

alma mater
Sheila Hughes leads the new graduates in singing the alma mater at Summer Convocation July 31st.


July 31, 2012, Villanova, PA – Tonight 88 adults graduated from the accelerated second degree program to earn their bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN).  These seasoned learners came to Villanova 14 months ago with a variety of backgrounds and their initial bachelor’s degrees in other specialties.  They leave ready to launch their new careers. Joining them are 33 other BSN graduates plus two RNs who also completed their studies.  Regardless of background, all were excited to celebrate their achievements at the Villanova University College of Nursing Summer Convocation held in the St. Thomas of Villanova Church.


M. Louise Fitzpatrick, EdD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor, lauded their accomplishments and presented the College of Nursing Medallion for Academic Achievement to Pamela Sanderson Di Donato of Blue Bell, Pa. who graduates with a Q.P.A of 4.0. Academic success is not new to her. She finished her BA in economics and government in three years at the College of William and Mary and soon after earned an MBA and an MA in public policy from the University of Chicago.  Following her first successful career in investment banking and an active volunteer life while wife and mother, Pamela began the accelerated second degree BSN program in 2011, wanting to use her skills and talents to work directly with people.  She is highly regarded by faculty, students and colleagues alike.

“This, my dear friends is the essence of nursing: caring ….and caring enough to put yourselves in challenging situations in order to make a positive difference to someone else. You have not only been learning about that while here at Villanova but you have been living it.” –Maryanne Lieb, MSN, RN

Maryanne Lieb, MSN, RN, coordinator of the second degree options, welcomed the graduates into “one of the most honest and honorable professions.”   She shared that “It is a privilege to be a nurse because patients welcome us into their lives at some of the most challenging times…at times when they are most vulnerable. They depend on us to care for them intelligently and with integrity.”  

Lieb pointed out that as adults with a previous degree and life experience, the students brought a varied and valuable perspective to the table and a richness to nursing. She described them for the audience:


“You are:

Teachers, singers, nannies, researchers, case managers, patient advocates and homemakers. You are financial underwriters, business owners, massage therapists, crisis center phone counselors and camp counselors. You are personal trainers and athletic trainers and one of you attended West Point Military academy and served as platoon leader and executive officer in the US Army.

You are Eagle Scouts, paramedics, and accountants, EMTs, LPNs, PCTs CNAs, and PTAs. You are vet techs, ER techs and surgical techs and one of you was a Honolulu Zoo Volunteer.

You are soccer players, lacrosse players, volley ball players, rowers, sailors, kayakers and hikers. You are wall climbers, rock climbers, and tough mudder competition participants.  You have coached basketball, soccer, rowing, and lacrosse and one of you plays and teaches piano. You are expert at driving Septa security golf carts and at horseback riding and one of you provided horseback riding therapy for the disabled.


You speak Spanish, Arabic, French, Hebrew, Mandarin, Cantonese, Yoruba and Igbo.

You have celebrated a couple of weddings, a couple of engagements and you await the arrival of one baby any minute. 

You hale from various states outside of our tri-state area to include: California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina, Virginia, and Alaska by way of Oregon and Utah.

Your class also has representatives from India, Malawi, Nova Scotia, Colombia, Ghana and Nigeria.

You have spent countless hours in the volunteer service of others in the US and abroad. You have assisted surgeons as they perform operations on children with spinal deformities. You have cared for developmentally challenged individuals in your own home and for families at an AIDS center in South Africa. You served as a patient advocate and participated in several habitats for humanities projects. One of you founded an organization entitled “Nursing without Borders” and one of you served in Afghanistan, as a commissioned officer, and received 2 commendation medals. You have cared for countless patients and family members and two of you, during your pediatric clinical rotation, took turns holding a dying baby so that she would not be alone.”

Lieb challenged the students on three fronts: to never underestimate their ability to inspire others, to deliver care at such a level that all of their patients feel that they the only patient, and she noted “always remember to think carefully and care thoughtfully.”

Michael Barry offered the invocation; classmate Susan Kennedy was the student speaker.
New graduates Erica Hill, Adriana Ruiz and Kenny Mo react to snippets of life as a nursing student during Convocation.
Students Casey Lieb and Megan Brzozowski receive the College of Nursing pin from their alumnae mothers.