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Candle vigil for incoming students

With a beacon of light, CU Nursing ushers in next generation of caregivers

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Written by Debra Melani on June 6, 2019

Vowing to serve with honor, CU Nursing’s newest group of 188 students was ceremonially launched down the path to becoming part of a “sacred practice” at the May 31 Nightingale Ceremony.

Upwards of 600 friends and family members packed the Education 2 South auditorium, where they witnessed the traditional welcoming ceremony, featuring everything from vintage nursing gowns to glowing lamps.

Students also received their stethoscopes as part of the ceremony, thanks in part to the College of Nursing Stethoscope Fund.

Students urged to carry legacy forward, fill critical void

Nightingale, who once walked the battlefields of the Crimean War at night toting a lantern and caring for wounded soldiers, became known first as “the lady with the lamp” and then as the mother of modern nursing, Associate Dean of Academic Programs Leigh Small told the audience.

Small also informed the students that they were fulfilling a dire need by joining the “sacred practice,” as Nightingale called the profession. Despite 3.9 million nurses in the United States, shortages exist nationwide, she said. And Colorado sits second only to Arizona with the largest demand for baccalaureate-prepared and graduate-level nurses, Small said.

The ceremony showcased role-playing faculty and staff members, dressed in the authentic nursing attire of the era they portrayed, discussing its historical significance before passing the lamp onto a representative of the next era.

“We look to each one of you to carry that legacy forward,” Small said, adding that the journey ahead will change them before they even leave the Anschutz Medical Campus.

New grad to students: Ask why not? Be transformed

May nursing graduate Chantal Dengah, BSN, who took part in a litany of extracurricular activities to round out her undergraduate years, experienced that change and encouraged the new class to embrace the learning ahead.

“As a single mother of three, I should have come up with reasons why I shouldn’t do any of this,” Dengah said, after sharing her list of accomplishments, from serving as president of the CU Student Nurses Association to being selected for the Honors Research Program.

“But I didn’t. Instead, I answered the why with a why not? Why not get comfortable with the uncomfortable? Why not push your boundaries and find your mettle?”

Dengah told the students that if they also take full advantage of everything CU Nursing has to offer, they will become the nurses that everyone looks to first.

“You will find yourselves changed and, very much like a caterpillar to a butterfly, transformed,” she said, encouraging the students to think critically and deeply. “Now is the time to ask: Why not?”