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Welcome to Our Newest Alumni

Another class can now be counted among the ranks of Penn Nursing Alumni. On May 13, 2018, the graduating class, faculty, staff, and administrators gathered at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts to celebrate our School’s annual commencement.

By the Numbers

The years of dedicated studying, clinical rotations, research, papers and exams culminated in a two-hour ceremony celebrating 527 graduating Penn Nursing students. That number includes all the students who will have received degrees this academic year, including December 2017, May, and August 2018 graduates. The breakdown of the 2018 graduating class is as follows:

16 PhD Students

329 Graduate Students

182 Undergraduate Students

A Distinguished Speaker

Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel introduced Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, PhD, RN, FAAN, as the keynote speaker for the event. As Deputy Surgeon General, Rear Admiral (RADM) Sylvia Trent-Adams advises and supports the Surgeon General regarding operations of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps and communication of the best available scientific information to advance the health of the nation. She served as the Acting Surgeon General from April 2017 through September 2017 and as Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS from November 2013 through May 2016. 

Student Awards

Several students in the Class of 2018 received awards for their leadership ability, creativity, academic, and research excellence. A full list is below:


Emilia Flores

The Ann Wolbert Burgess Endowed Student Award is awarded to a graduat­ing PhD student for demonstrating excellence and leadership in nursing, as evidenced by a completed doctoral dissertation that holds significant promise as a contribution to nursing knowledge.


Leah Turner

The Dean’s Award is awarded to a graduating PhD, masters, or undergraduate student who epitomizes the philosophy of the School of Nursing


Ashley Ritter

The Claire M. Fagin Award is awarded to a graduating PhD, masters, or un­dergraduate student who has demonstrated a high level of leadership and creativity at the School of Nursing or within the larger Penn community.


Melissa Charlie

The Marion R. Gregory Award is awarded to the PhD student whose complet­ed dissertation promises significant contribution to nursing knowledge.

What is your favorite Harnwell memory?  

Christine Mitchell

The Norma M. Lang Award is awarded to an undergraduate or masters stu­dent who has demonstrated excellence in academic and scholarly practice.


The Nurse-Midwifery Graduating Class of December 2017

The Theresa I. Lynch Award is awarded to a graduating PhD, masters, or un­dergraduate student for consistent contributions to the advancement of the School of Nursing.


Erin Hartman

The Jeanne Frances Hopkins Award is awarded to a nursing undergraduate or graduate student who has achieved academic excellence while embarking on a uniquely Penn curricular opportunity.


Christine Bader

The Wealtha McGurn Research Award is awarded to a graduating masters or doctoral student who demonstrates excellence in research with a particular focus on pediatric primary care or adult health.


Elizabeth (Betsy) White

The Dorothy Mereness Award is awarded to a graduating PhD, masters, or undergraduate student for excellence in scholarly writing.


Jordan Sanders

The Mary D. Naylor Undergraduate Research Award is awarded to a nursing undergraduate student who demonstrates contributions to advancing nursing knowledge through research.

Rosario Jaime-Lara

The Teaching Assistant Award is awarded to a teaching assistant who demon­strates cognitive, professional, and interpersonal competencies.

Nicholas Giordano

The Henry O. Thompson Prize in Ethics is awarded to a graduating masters or doctoral student for distinction on ethical thinking and action.


Kasey Benchimol

The Joyce E. Thompson Award in Women’s Health is awarded to the masters student who demonstrates leadership and excellence in maternal and child health.


Valerie Bai

The Rosalyn J. Watts Diversity Scholar Leadership Award is awarded to the undergraduate student whose outstanding qualities of scholarship and leadership exemplify a commitment to the Penn SON Office of Diversity and Cultural Affairs by serving as a role model to promote meaningful interaction among diverse groups.


Colleen Regan

The Ralston Center Award for Gerontology Nursing Excellence is awarded to an outstanding masters nursing student specializing in geriatric nurs­ing.


Charis Marie Anderson

The JoAnn Nallinger Grant Award is awarded to a nursing undergraduate who is graduating with a minor in Nutrition or a second major in Nutrition Science, and who has demonstrated academic excellence and exemplary achievement in education, service, and/or research.


Stephanie Spinosa

The Sigma Theta Tau BSN Student Leadership Award recognizes a BSN student who demonstrates a high-level of academic achievement, leadership, and service within the School of Nursing, University and/or community.


Susan Keim

The Sigma Theta Tau PhD Student Leadership Award recognizes an PhD student who demonstrates a high-level of academic achievement, leadership, and service within the School of Nursing, University and/or community.


Solim Lee

Research Award: Understanding the Heart Failure Patients’ Symptom Perception Process: A Mixed Methods Study


Jennifer Morone

Research Award: The Influence of Social Determinants of Health on Family and Self-management of Type 1 Diabetes in Black Single Parent Families


Saumya Ayyagari

Research Award: A Qualitative Study Investigating Lived Experiences and Perceived Health Needs of Women in Kensington, Philadelphia


Alumni Awards

Penn Nursing also celebrates the career achievements of graduates and those who make a significant impact on the School:

Seth Ginns

The Penn Nursing Honorary Alumni Award is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the achievement of Penn Nursing Alumni and School of Nursing goals through their personal support of the School and by inspiring loyalty among others.


Terri E. Weaver

The Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes a Penn Nursing graduate who is a leader with an outstanding career that has advanced the profession of nursing.

Paule Valery Joseph

The Lillian Sholtis Brunner Alumni Award for Innovation recognizes a Penn graduate for innovation in inter-professional, collaborative practice impacting the nursing profession and/or the health care delivery system.


Katharine E. Donaldson

The Alumni Award for Clinical Excellence recognizes a Penn Nursing graduate who demonstrates in their professional practice clinical expertise and a passion for the practice or nursing.


Sarah Shin

The Alumni Spirit Award for Graduating Students recognizes outstanding contributions to the achievement of Penn Nursing Alumni goals. These contributions may include fostering loyalty to the School and the University and advancing social and professional bonds among classmates and alumni during their student experience.


Julia Tierney Davis

The Legacy Award recognizes a Penn Nursing graduate for preservation and/or scholarship in the study of the history of nursing.