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This is a speech I wrote for my daughter when she graduated from nursing school.
Thank you (introducer)
On behalf of those graduating this evening, I would like to thank you all for coming. We are very glad you’re here, but we’re even more excited that we’re here—finally!
I’d like to address my fellow nursing students now. Would you please raise your right hand? Now reach over and pinch your left arm and say “Is this really happening?” Now please assess your arm for any signs or symptoms of ecchymosis or hematoma.
On a more serious note, (looking at class) thank you for giving me the honor of speaking on your behalf tonight.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank (insert names and positions), and the nursing program faculty for equipping us with the necessary tools to become skilled and caring nurses.
We benefited greatly from the unique teaching style each professor brought to the classroom, and from the wealth of professional nursing experience each instructor brought to the clinical setting. We thank you all for your invaluable contributions to our nursing education
Last, but definitely not least, we would like to thank all of our families and friends for their never-ending support. It is because of your patience and support, and more patience and more support, that we are all in this room tonight.
We are a diverse group of graduates, from diverse places and backgrounds. We are singles, fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives. We are children, and now we are nurses. All of the roles we have played in life have helped prepare us for the role we assume tonight.
As young children we learned the importance of a comforting touch to a scraped knee or a bruised heart– that a touch can calm fears and quiet chaos. And most important, we learned that a band-aid makes everything better.
As adult children caring for aging parents and grandparents, we learned that every moment of life is valuable even when those living it can no longer walk to the bathroom—or wipe their own bottoms. We learned the importance of giving the sick, the elderly, and the dying the dignity they deserve.
Several of us balanced the rigors of nursing school with the emotional and physical strain of caring for aging loved ones. I spent the first and second semester helping my mother care for my elderly father. We buried him during third semester. I know, in heaven, he’s elbowing the angels, saying, “That’s my daughter, Rebecca. Doesn’t she look professional?” Although our experiences were extremely difficult, we will be more compassionate nurses because of them.
As singles, we learned that we are unique individuals with unique gifts and talents. We learned that it is just as important to take care of ourselves as it is to take care of others.
As single fathers and mothers, struggling to make ends meet while working hard at creating a better life for our children, we learned that giving up is not an option when people’s lives are in our hands.
As husbands and wives and significant others, we learned to work as a team. We learned that nobody knows everything, and sometimes we need our partner’s perspectives. We learned to give and take. He learned to give, and I learned to take.
Some of us who had spouses serving in the military, far from home, learned that we can do our job and somebody else’s at the same time if we have to.
As fathers and mothers, we learned to pay attention to signs and symptoms. We learned that a change on the outside could indicate a serious problem developing on the inside. We learned that people are depending on us to know what we’re doing and to do it well. And, of course, as parents we learned how to clean up blood, vomit, and poop.
Tonight we assume the role of a nurse. A nurse is many things: a care giver, an educator, a facilitator, a coordinator, an assessor, a grief counselor, a doctors eyes, a patient’s mouth, a family’s friend. All we have learned from our previous roles will serve us well as we embark on this amazing journey.
(looks at class) I know you will be great nurses because you are great people. (goodbyes)