Below is the speech that I gave last Friday. I was so thrilled to be able to do it. I hope you enjoy it!
"Good evening! Thank you for sharing in this long-awaited joyous occasion with us. On behalf of my classmates and myself, I would like to start off by thanking everyone’s friends and families for being here. For the past year and a half, you have been so understanding when we have failed to return phone calls, backed out on plans at the last minute, got too involved in writing care plans to make dinner, and were too tired to clean the house, wash the dishes, and do the laundry. We studied through family outings and birthday parties, but you still stood by us. Thank you. We have been tired, stressed, worried, and on-edge with bouts of laughing or crying for no reason. And then there were those stories about clinicals that always came at inopportune times – like at the dinner table. On behalf of my classmates and myself, we apologize and thank you for having faith in us and helping us follow our dreams of becoming nurses. We would not be here today without you.
We would also like to thank all of our instructors for guiding us in our journey. You have taught us to be more efficient, helped us overcome boundaries we thought were impossible, and encouraged us to do things we never thought we were capable of doing. You have opened your hearts to us and were available to us 24/7. You have seen us thru the good times and the bad times. Thank you for being such great role models and an inspiration to be phenomenal nurses like you.
The past year and a half at times seemed slow and painful, but at other times flew by. It seems like it was just yesterday that we had the deer in headlites look on the first day of nursing school as we realized the road we had ahead of us. We quickly learned that days got longer and the amount of time that we slept got shorter. Nothing could have prepared us for waking up at 4:45 to go to clinicals. Those were the mornings when I wondered exactly what was I getting myself into? But it is amazing what a pit-stop at Starbucks can do!
Nursing school has taught us many things. We have learned, not just nursing procedures and skills, but we have also learned to not be judgmental - to find out the story before we draw a conclusion. We have learned to love no matter what, how to truly care for whomever is in that hospital bed on the other side of the door. We have learned to treat our patients as we would want our family and friends to be treated – with kindness, compassion, and dignity.
We have learned to really listen to what people are saying as opposed to just hearing what they are saying. We are eager to join the frontlines in making this world a better place.
My desire to be a nurse started when I was very young. I remember when I was about 3, I would make my mom take the rubber bands from the bottom of the broccoli and write my teddy bear’s name on it so it would be a hospital bracelet for him. My teachers from grammar school still remember that I wanted to be a NICU nurse since I was in second grade. I had all intentions of fulfilling my dream when I went away to college, but hit a few bumps in the road and quickly realized that, while this is what I wanted in life, I was not ready to take that journey. After years of trying to find a job that I loved doing and receiving articles about nursing from my mom in the mail, I knew that I had to follow my dream and pursue my passion. April 10th, 2008 will forever be ingrained in my head. I was in my A&P 2 class and one of my fellow classmates asked me if I had gotten my acceptance letter yet. Well, I sat about halfway thru the class and realized that there was no way that I could sit there for the remainder of the time. The 25 minute drive home seemed to last for hours. When I got back to my condo, I called my mom and went down to the mailroom. There it was. An envelope sitting in there just staring at me. Depending on what the response was, I did not want to have a breakdown in the lobby, so I went back upstairs. As I stood there with my heart pounding, my mom started to say, “Marisa, don’t be disappointed if….” Before she could get the sentence out, I started crying. The letter said Congratulations. That was all I needed to see. It was the beginning of my long-awaited journey. And I am sure that many of my classmates have similar stories about their experience.
Right now, we are needed more than ever and our challenge is to learn how to be passionate about our work and be just as excited about nursing 30 years from now as we are tonite.
As this journey comes to an end and we begin the next, I think about the memories we have made that will last a lifetime and the friendships that will endure. After today, many of us will part ways, but we will all have one thing in common. We are nurses. Wherever life takes us, we will make a difference in someone’s life. I would like to leave you with this quote: “To do what nobody else will do, in a way that nobody else can do, in spite of all we go through; that is to be a nurse.”
Congratulations, guys! We made it!"