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NOVA Honors Graduating Nurses at Pinning; Receives Largest Gift in College’s History to Establish Center for Nursing Excellence at MEC

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Last week, NOVA celebrated the accomplishments of its graduating class of nursing students with its annual pinning ceremony, a history-laden ceremony that signifies the official launch of a nurse’s career. During the ceremony, NOVA President Anne M. Kress also unveiled a substantial and generous donation from NOVA Nursing Alumna Arlene Evans and her husband, Barry Dewberry, that will establish a new, state-of-the-art Center for Nursing Excellence at NOVA’s Medical Education Campus (MEC).

Graduating nurses and their proud families gathered at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Performing Arts Center to celebrate and receive their pins. In addition to the exciting announcement made by President Kress; Dr. Shelly Powers, provost of the Medical Education Campus and Gary Sergeant, interim dean of nursing also provided remarks. A powerful keynote address was delivered by Deborah Fulbrook, chief nursing officer at INOVA Fair Oaks Hospital who also serves as vice president of nursing for Inova’s Musculoskeletal Service Line. Members of the Nursing Student Association (NSA) board gave words of encouragement to their fellow graduates. This year’s event concluded with the historical and inspirational gift from Evans and Dewberry.

“Nursing is the finest art. The finest art. Something that is more than a science. Something that requires much more than skill. Something that inspires,” Kress told the graduates. “You care for the whole person. You will walk across the stage today and into a field where you are with individuals and their family members, sometimes in their darkest hours. And you bring light. You bring hope.”

Shelly Powers, provost of NOVA’s Medical Education Campus, encouraged graduates that they are equipped to “make great contributions to society on a local and national level,” and that the future of healthcare is in their hands.

“It is indeed an honor to recognize the nursing class of 2022 as you embark upon a profession that truly defines public service,” Powers said. “Do not second guess yourself when making an assessment or calculating the dosage of medication. Just remember you have been taught by excellent faculty and clinical instructors to deliver the best possible care.”

Deborah Fulbrook gave congratulations and words of wisdom to graduates who had to scale much larger obstacles than nursing students in other eras. “Your efforts to reach this point as we all know have been particularly challenging over the past couple years as the global pandemic has kept you apart. I commend you for seeing your training through to graduation. Your achievement is remarkable and will be unforgettable as you have experienced a unique set of circumstances that, God forbid, you will not have to endure again in the future.” She outlined three universal truths that apply to all nurses: (1) When one phase of life ends, another begins; (2) beware of how we let others influence us and (3) we are all more of who we are because of each other.

She assured graduates that the obstacles would not stop on graduation day. “As a nurse professional, you will now answer a call. Your knowledge, skills and abilities will be tested daily. And for all of us, the learning never ends as we all advance in our careers.”

“Believe in your profession. Believe in yourself. Believe in the team. And appreciate and embrace your mission to care for humanity in a professional way,” Fulbrook said.

Professor Kayleen Galvin presented the nursing candidates who then crossed the stage six at a time to have their pin affixed to their uniform by one of the many faculty members who were instrumental in their success.

Before the ceremony ended, Dr. Anne Kress re-introduced Ms. Arlene Evans, a graduate of NOVA‘s nursing class of 1975, and Evans’ husband Barry Dewberry. Kress announced, on behalf of NOVA and the NOVA Educational Foundation, that Evans and Dewberry were providing a transformational investment in NOVA’s nursing program with a gift to establish a new nursing skills and training lab.

“NOVA’s nursing program will forever have a special place in my heart,” said Arlene Evans, NOVA Class of 1975 alumna. “My husband, Barry Dewberry, and I are delighted to support the much-needed expansion of the Medical Education Campus. As a former nurse, I understand the impact that the current shortage of trained nursing professionals is having on healthcare delivery, and we are excited to help NOVA double the number of nursing students accepted each year once the new nursing skills and training lab is completed.”

This gift will establish the Arlene Evans and Barry Dewberry Center for Nursing Excellence at NOVA’s Medical Education Campus, which will include a state-of-the-art Nursing Skills Simulation Lab, Physical Assessment Lab, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Learning Space and Learning Commons. This will further enhance the quality of education and capacity for NOVA’s future nursing graduates.

The gift given by Evans and Dewberry is the largest gift from individual donors in the College’s history. NOVA is extremely grateful for this tremendous investment and for all nursing program students and alumni who continue to make a difference in the lives of patients and in this community as a whole.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.edu, or call 703.323.3000.

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