Posted on May 7, 2021

A Week of Celebrations for USF Nursing Graduates

A Week of Celebrations for USF Nursing Graduates

The University of South Florida will be toasting its latest class of graduates by holding in-person commencement ceremonies on May 8 – for the first time since the pandemic started – at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. USF will be conferring more than 350 nursing degrees, including 239 baccalaureate, 109 master’s, and nine doctoral degrees.

Here are the nursing-related highlights from the first-ever USF Health Grad Week celebrations held this past week for the Spring 2021 graduates:

Twin Sisters Graduate as Nurses

Twin sisters Molly and Katerina Wentzell received their BS in Nursing. The two grew up doing just about everything together. So, when the pair decided to attend USF, it might be no surprise that they wound up pursuing nursing degrees together.

For Katerina, nursing had been her goal since middle school. For Molly, it wasn’t until her second semester at USF that she decided a nursing career was right for her too.

The sisters say it’s been an amazing experience. While they admit they had to overcome some sibling rivalry and competition, they say having the other there for support ended up enriching their experience more than they could have imagined.

Along with their studies, the Wentzell sisters lived in the Pre-Nursing Living Learning Community on campus. Both held leadership positions within Stampede Into Bull Nursing – Molly was president and Katerina served as treasurer. They were also involved in the Nursing Student Association, in which Katerina was president.

As they prepare to graduate with their BSN degrees, both have already accepted nursing jobs in the Tampa Bay region.

An Award-winning Golden Bull Nurse

Nursing graduate Bridget Godsil received the 2021 Golden Bull Award.

The award is one of USF’s highest honors given each year in the Spring semester to students who encompass the spirit of USF, exemplify its values, demonstrate superior leadership skills, and provide service to the University and community.

Godsil’s list of accomplishments shows her clear desire to serve others.  She was part of the inaugural chapter of Camp Kesem at USF, a nonprofit organization run by college students that provides a free, week-long summer camp for children who have been impacted by a parent’s cancer.

Godsil was also a member of the USF Ambassadors, a member of the College of Nursing Student Council executive board, a mentor with Bulls Reaching Achievement in Nursing, and held leadership positions within residential education.

USF Health College of Nursing student Bridget Godsil received the 2021 Golden Bull Award.

She said she was honored to have been chosen to receive the award.

“I absolutely love USF and I’ve given so much to this university,” Godsil said. “I was really happy and proud. To have put so much work in these four years and to get something tangible out of it, it felt really nice to be recognized.”

Inaugural ASD Sarasota-Manatee Cohort Perseveres Through Pandemic

After overcoming several unique challenges presented by COVID-19, the first cohort of 30 students from the Accelerated Second Degree pathway on the Sarasota-Manatee campus graduated.

The inaugural cohort began in January 2020, just weeks before the start of the pandemic. The health crisis forced the university to shift entirely online for several months. Students were eventually able to resume in-person activities in their high-tech simulation lab and in clinical settings in local hospitals.

The inaugural cohort of the Accelerated Second Degree pathway on the Sarasota-Manatee campus graduated in Spring 2021.

Despite the unexpected hurdles, not one student left the cohort.

“Our students, faculty, and staff did not let COVID disrupt their plans,” said Karen Holbrook, Sarasota-Manatee regional chancellor. “In fact, the pandemic inspired our students to commit even more steadfastly to the profession. It has been especially rewarding to witness the resilience, care, and compassion you have demonstrated as you navigated the uncertain conditions of the pandemic. You’ve endured. And you’ve overcome far more than what was expected of you.”

A Virtual Baccalaureate Pinning Ceremony

On May 6, the College of Nursing premiered a virtual baccalaureate pinning ceremony on its YouTube channel.

Three nursing students gave class remarks and the ceremony awarded special recognition to students who excelled academically and clinically.

The Academic Excellence in Nursing Award was given to Kristen Kova, Jayson Viernes, Emily Bowie, Lisa Appiah, Dilliey Fassil, Mary Elizabeth Gant, Jessica Jackson, Anastacia Jurkowski, Amanda Kahn, and Brandy Lockhart-Hunt. The Clinical Excellence Award went to Leah Ginn and Cassidie-Anne Toussaint.

The Nursing Leadership Award was presented to Brandon Delli Santi and Alexandra Hawley.

Winners of the Nursing Service Award were Rhyan Raymond and Teren Culver. The Spirit of Nursing Award was given to Emily Toal and Kaylee Wells. The Nightingale Award honored Mary Van Osdol, Bowie, and Joannie Sears.

Students selected faculty members Danielle Beasley, Natasha Zurcher, Sean Sharp, and Allyson Duffy to receive the Outstanding Faculty Awards.

Another six students were recognized for being inducted into the nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau International and 15 students received the USF Global Citizen Award.

On May 4, USF Shared Student Services hosted the USF Health Student Awards. Nursing’s Delli Santi received the Student Leader of the Year award, Van Osdol received the Spirit Award, and Mallory Owens won the Excellence in Service Award. On May 6, nursing graduate Amber Miller took first place in the tree dedication inscription contest and USF Health leaders unveiled an oak tree planted and dedicated to this year’s graduating class.

USF Health Grad Week Celebrates Doctoral Graduates

On May 4, the college premiered a virtual ceremony on its YouTube channel celebrating the Spring 2021 doctoral graduates.

Doctor of Nursing Practice student speaker Amanda Fitch Nagy shared how proud she was of the college’s faculty, directors, deans, and support staff who worked tirelessly to keep students on track despite the challenges during the pandemic.

“The DNP program has helped guide me to become a more caring clinician and has taught me to continually look to the future of healthcare and what my role is as a nurse practitioner,” Nagy said. “Let us stand together in support of each other, encouraging the care for others in this great sacrifice as nurses. We are the future.”

Faculty gave awards to the top three student research poster presentations.

First place went to Samantha Stephenson for “Implementation of a Nurse-Driven Asthma Protocol to Improve Timeliness of Medication Administration and Length of Stay in a Pediatric Emergency Department.”

Second place was awarded to Tania Brabble for “Implementation of a Transition in Care Protocol to Avoid Delays in Care for Male Patients Experiencing Acute Urinary Retention.”

The third-place award was given to Nagy for her project, “Improving Outcomes in Adult Hispanics Through a Culturally Tailored Diabetic Program.”

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing