Fall 2014 Recognition Ceremony Celebrates Nursing Graduates

More than 800 families and friends gathered at the Hawaii Convention Center on December 18, 2014, to celebrate over 50 fall 2014 graduates from UHM Nursing. Graduates from the Bachelor of Science, RN to BS, Master of Science, Master’s Entry, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) nursing programs participated in this fall’s Recognition Ceremony.

The students selected Ms. Puni Jackson, Ha Coordinator at Ho‘oulu ‘Aina, to deliver the keynote address. Ho‘oulu ‘Aina focuses on community health and emphasizes the connection between the land and our people. UHM Nursing partners with Ho‘oulu ‘Aina to provide UH Manoa Nursing students hands-on experiences with ancient Hawaiian health practices. Jackson shared a heartwarming, inspirational message that highlighted her personal interactions with our students. She praised nurses for their efficient communication and strong work ethic. Jackson shared her appreciation for the ways the students exemplified what they learned and her pride in the nurses they have become. “I’m grateful thinking that it’s not lip service when the UH Manoa Nursing says this ‘aina is important to them, our culture is important to them … the way you carry yourself, it makes me feel proud,” said Jackson. She concluded her speech reminding graduates that the path they are on is a crucial one, but one they are prepared for, saying “navigating that space between the patient and doctor, between the community and the academy, between our life and the land … navigating that space between is a kuleana that I know you won’t take lightly.”

 UHM Nursing fall 2014 graduates

Student speakers included Undergraduate Class President Moani Amerino and former Student Nurses Association Vice President Josephine Araki, and master’s graduate Laura Reichhardt. Bachelor’s graduate Josephine Araki shared a motivating story with her peers illustrating the impact one person can have on someone’s life, saying “I want to encourage you – that one person can make a difference, as in the story, the things you do, though you may think it is small, [it] makes a difference for the one that you are doing it for.” Undergraduate Class President Moani Amerino invited her classmates to face their future as nurses united with pride by “continuing in the legacy of those fearless and compassionate nurses who have gone before us.” Both Josephine and Moani closed their remarks by recognizing their beloved classmate, Helen Hites, who passed away on March 3, 2013. They spoke of Helen’s tenacious spirit and encouraged their peers to follow Helen’s example, “we should all remember that with hard work, courage and dedication any challenge that we come upon is surmountable.”

Master’s graduate Laura Reichhardt elaborated on the vast range of expertise among her fellow advanced degree graduates. She highlighted the plethora of opportunities available for nurses and encouraged the baccalaureate graduates to continue their education. In closing, Laura recognized the need for high quality nurse leaders in our community, “across the spectrum of nursing in Hawaii, we need more nurses with advanced knowledge and skills to shine through leading in innovation, taking on leadership roles, engaging in health policy, to be educators, researchers, evidence-based and patient-centered clinicians and community advocates.”

Laura Reichhardt poses for group photo

In keeping with tradition, students invited family members to participate on stage during the pinning ceremony. Each student received a ribbon lei from the School with a UHM Nursing alumni pin affixed to it. UH Manoa Nursing Alumni Association (UHMNAA) President Sally Ishikawa (MPH ’90, BS ’70) continued a more recent tradition of giving a $250 cash gift to accompany the student-selected Professional Nurse Award presented to Josephine Araki. Additionally, UHMNAA awarded one-year of complimentary membership to the alumni chapter to each of the following awardees: Moani Amerino for the Leadership and DAISY in Training Award, Jane Chesmore for the Kahiau Award, Carm Celine Akim and Ryan Kitamura for the Community Service Award, and Kendra Bolduc for the Academic Achievement Award.

The Dean’s Research Award is selected from student submissions and is awarded to one student from every degree program. Student selected for the Dean’s Research Award include:

  • PhD student Kathryn Wood in recognition of her study project titled “Facilitators and Barriers to Successful Breastfeeding among Chuukese Mothers who Migrate to Guam.”
  • DNP student Holly Kralj in recognition of her study project titled “Creating Pathways of Care: a Multidisciplinary Approach to Increasing Screening and Treatment of Postpartum Depression Within a Rural Health Clinic.”
  • Undergraduate student Mazie-Rose Coloma in recognition of her study project titled “Nursing Student Burnout.”

The undergraduate students presented UHM Nursing faculty Maria Guerriero, MSN, RN with the Nurse Educator of the Year award. Guerriero was also the recipient of the faculty-selected DAISY Faculty Award, in honor of her exceptional impact on students and inspirational influence on their future.

UHM Nursing will celebrate spring 2015 graduates at Recognition Ceremony in May 2015. For questions about Recognition Ceremony, please contact Carlyn Okatomi at

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