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“A Career and a Calling”: Recognizing Fall 2023 College of Nursing Graduates

The University of Utah College of Nursing celebrated the achievements of 52 pre-licensure and 28 RN-BSN students on December 14 as part of the Fall 2023 Graduation. Gathered on campus in the A. Ray Olpin Student Union among faculty, staff, family, and friends, graduates were reminded of the significance of their futures. 

“Graduates, today marks the beginning of a new chapter in your lives,” explained Amanda Keddington, MSN, RN, CCRN, OCN. “You have started a journey that requires resilience, sacrifice, and personal commitment to the profession of nursing. You chose a path that is not only a career but a calling – a calling to serve, to heal, and to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Graduates sitting in a row wearing black and red regalia


In its 75-year history, the college has become the flagship nursing school in Utah. The College ranks #31 out of more than 800 colleges of nursing. Last year, pre-licensure and RN-BSN students were provided nearly $524K in scholarship funding. The college has also been recognized by responding to the shortage of nurses in Utah and nationwide by increasing enrollment in the pre-licensure track by 25%. 

“What sets University of Utah College of Nursing students apart is your keen ability to transform adverse situations into opportunities to care for others,” said Dean Marla De Jong, PhD, RN, CCNS, FAAN. “As students, you championed state and national public health initiatives by volunteering at health fairs, administering COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, and working in hospitals and clinics as nurse apprentices to augment the nursing workforce, and helping underserved and marginalized communities access care.”

Lauren Russell Barnhisel, the graduating Student Council President, encouraged fellow graduates, “May we be the nurses who stand not just as professionals but as compassionate companions on our patients' journeys. I hope that we always amplify the voices of those that are not being heard. In the face of adversity, may we be the nurses who are our patients’ biggest cheerleaders. And even when it all gets overwhelming, I hope we are the nurses that remember the impact of our small gestures and are known to go the extra mile in finding a way to bring a smile to our patients' faces.”

The University of Utah will celebrate students from colleges and schools across campus at the University Commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 2, 2024.