At my hooding ceremony this year from my Doctor of Nursing Practice program, I was asked to be the speaker and represent the graduate students. In doing so, I reflected on why I became a nurse seven years ago, why I decided to continue my education to obtain a doctorate, and what my reasons were for going through the sleepless nights, endless papers, hundreds of hours of clinicals, and all of the blood, sweat, and tears that go along with being a graduate student.
When asked why I chose to become a nurse, I knew in my heart there was one answer that explained my very existence, and my reasoning for every decision — the reason why God created me.
For the refugee families around the world, and all of the people who are under-served, lonely, forgotten, impoverished, sick, dying, in pain, and who have lost hope… I share with you the speech that I gave at my graduation ceremony – with the hopes that it will inspire you to never give up. I hope that it will inspire you to find your reason for getting out of bed each morning, and to truly honor your life calling.
Dr. Seuss eloquently states: “Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no one alive who is youer than you! You have brains in your head, and feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose!”
Be proud of your accomplishments, but realize they are only the beginning of what’s to come. Our education now is paving the way for us to become compassionate nurses and experts in our field of study, so there are many opportunities for continuous growth and improvement in our careers. This may mean that we must take the road less traveled, which is not always the easiest or most convenient way to go.
St. Francis of Assisi once shared the words, “Start by doing what is necessary, then doing what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
In order to be advocates for our patients and for those who are less fortunate both locally and around the world, we must be willing to speak up and rise against the trials we face. We’ve all had challenges along the way throughout our education and life in general, which have tested our patience and helped shape us into who we are today. Many of my classmates and people sitting here today have lost loved ones, suffered serious illnesses, and had other major life challenges during the course of this program. It is our connection to each other and our sense of community which has helped so many of us get through these times.
Knowing we have come a long way will help us draw on our inner strength to keep moving forward. Whether you realize this or not, you are role models and sources of infinite inspiration and love to others. Each of us has special qualities and abilities to be proud of — which make us stand out. You are the reason that others are continuing to pursue their passions and not give up.
I challenge you to do something for someone who you know can never repay you.
To the undergraduate students in the room, I congratulate you and encourage you to consider seeking higher education and taking an active role in the nursing professional development. Find a mentor in your area of interest and don’t be afraid to ask questions and do what you need to do to continue to be the best YOU that you can be. To all the graduates in the room today, I challenge you to do something for someone who you know can never repay you. When we are true to ourselves, and a reflection of the love and kindness we want to see in the world, it creates a ripple effect.
When I look into the eyes of my fellow nursing graduates today, I see something that I saw in the eyes of the refugees that I have encountered over my medical missions throughout the years, and that is resilience. This is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, and significant stress. According to the American Psychological Association, resilience can be seen as how well people can bounce back from difficulty (APA, 2016). While resilience may be innate in some people, it can also be learned and developed through practice. In keeping with the theme of being honest and proud of yourself, how can we help develop resilience in order to achieve this in our professional and personal lives?
- One way is to change the way we interpret and react to stress. Life happens, and there will inevitably be challenges along the way, but how we react to these events defines who we are. Change what you can, and let go of what you cannot. Stay hopeful that even with setbacks, you will get closer each day to where you want to be .
- Another way is to set realistic goals and be proud of your accomplishments. While your steps may seem like they are small, in time they will lead you to the greater goal you hope to achieve. Have confidence in yourself and take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.
- In addition, form connections with positive people in your life who can help remind you of your purpose and how far you have come. Sometimes it only takes seeing things from another perspective to give us the boost we need to become more resilient.
No matter where life and your nursing career take you, I wish you much success, joy, prosperity, and peace. May you continue to have hope that what is coming is better than what has gone. I will share one last quote that has stuck with me, which I heard at my graduation ceremony when I became a new nurse:
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.