BSN Convocation Shines Light on Inequalities

“Never before has it been more evident that nurses can make a difference than now, during the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

UF College of Nursing Dean Anna McDaniel opened the Annual BSN Convocation with a greeting for students that showed the energy, commitment and community of Gator Nurses.

The annual event is held during the first week of the fall semester and is an opportunity to gather all of the College of Nursing’s undergraduate students together as a community. In its third year, the event was held virtually this fall due to COVID-19 and the need for physical distancing. Nearly 400 students and faculty attended the convocation to hear from special guest speakers on overcoming racial disparities in the nursing profession.

Mary Magee Gullatte, PhD, RN, ANP-BC, AOCN, LSSYB, FAAN, is the Corporate Director of Nursing Innovation and Research at Emory Healthcare. Her presentation, titled “Navigating at an Uneven Table: And Still I Rise,” chronicled her experiences and how education opened many doors for her and allowed her to have a seat at the table. When it came to choosing nursing as a profession, she advised the students to follow their hearts.

“Think about who you are, what you want to be,” Gullate said. “Discover what your purpose is on this earth. Find your passion and your passion will lead you to your purpose. My passion was taking care of people.”

LaRon Nelson, PhD, RN, FNP, FNAP, FAAN, is the Associate Dean for Global Affairs and Planetary Health, Independence Foundation Professor and Associate Professor at the Yale School of Nursing. In his presentation, “Ain’t I A Nurse?: A Black Man Working in a White Woman’s Profession,” he shared the unconventional path that led him to nursing: After taking a career aptitude test in the Navy, his options for college were nursing or law school. The Navy only offered him an undergraduate scholarship, so he chose nursing. But he learned nursing was not acultural or apolitical.

“I was so different from my classmates and professors,” Nelson said. “I could understand what they were teaching me; I just didn’t know how it was going to make a difference outside of the clinic.”

In the end, he said the most meaningful part of his education was being mentored and educated by nurses who were disruptive, disobedient, irreverent but skilled, brilliant and technical.

Gullate and Nelson stressed the importance of making change and how nurses have the ability to either empower others or make them feel worse.

“Show up as you are,” Nelson said. “Don’t dim your light — shine it. And, together, we will make a difference.”