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School of Nursing & Healthcare Professions Celebrates 40 Years of Academic Excellence at Gala Celebration

May 7, 2018

The College’s School of Nursing & Healthcare Professions marked its 40th anniversary on Wednesday May 2, with a gala celebration held at Glen Island Harbour Club in New Rochelle. Faculty, students and alumni of the School were among those on hand for the festive event, which featured a dinner buffet overlooking Long Island Sound, an awards presentation to outstanding nursing alumnae, and a keynote address by renowned nursing theorist Dr. Jean Watson.

“Gathered here tonight is an impressive group of alumni, who come from all walks of life and all parts of our world,” said Dr. Debra Simons, dean of the School of Nursing & Healthcare Professions, during her opening remarks. “Tonight we celebrate 40 years of nursing education and human caring. Tonight we celebrate wisdom for life and how education as an instrument can transform.”

Since its founding, the School of Nursing & Healthcare Professions has graduated nearly 5,000 women and men, who are proudly recognized as "CNR Nurses," known for the compassion, ethical focus, and professional expertise they bring to the field, who have gone on to make a transformative impact at some of the most prestigious healthcare institutions in the country. This year, the School will graduate the largest class in its history, bestowing 293 undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing at the College’s Commencement later this month. 

The College was honored to welcome Watson to speak at the event. “Dr. Watson’s caring philosophy is used to guide transformative models of caring and healing practices for hospitals, nurses and patients alike, in diverse settings worldwide,” said Simons while introducing Watson. “The College of New Rochelle School of Nursing & Healthcare Professions’ praxis is defined by Dr. Watson’s theory of human caring and art and science of caring.”

A distinguished professor and dean emerita at the University of Colorado Denver and the founder of the Center for Human Caring in Colorado, Watson riveted the audience of largely nursing professionals as she spoke of her philosophy and science of caring, emphasizing in particular the central role of holistic health in the practice of caring in nursing. Holistic healing, which addresses the interconnectedness of the mind, body, spirit, has long been a hallmark of nursing education at CNR.

In recognition of their outstanding achievements in nursing, Dr. Deborah Hunt, associate professor of nursing at CNR, and Toyoko Yasui, coordinator of holistic nursing at White Plains Hospital, were presented with awards. Both Hunt and Yasui received their master’s degrees in nursing from CNR.

Hunt, who has taught at CNR since 2005, is a fellow at the New York Academy of Medicine and co-lead of the Northern Metropolitan Region’s Task Force on the Future of Nursing.  She is co-chair of the Health and Human Services Committee at Bronx Community Board # 10, where she spearheaded the Healthy Lifestyle Challenge, and sits on the Advisory Board of and Advance for Nurses. In 2008, she co-founded the College’s Nurse Advocacy Forum with Dr. Connie Vance.  She has published three nursing textbooks, multiple articles, and two award-winning children's books.

Recounting a career in nursing which led her from the bedside to the classroom in her acceptance speech, Hunt credited her fellow faculty and her students for their support that had spurred her on to even greater accomplishment, particularly her mentors at CNR, Dr. Connie Vance and Dr. Lynda Shand. “The day I entered The College of New Rochelle was a day that changed my life, and I feel truly blessed,” she said. “It’s been an honor and a privilege.” 

Yasui, has been working as a nurse for more than 30 years, holding various clinical and personal experiences in the areas of oncology, medical and surgical populations, and geriatrics. Since 2014, she has been coordinator of holistic nursing at White Plains Hospital. There, she provided patients/family members and staff various holistic modalities, including guided imagery, healing touch, therapeutic touch, reiki, ikebana as meditation, and aromatherapy. She is a certified clinical aromatherapy practitioner, ‘M’ technique instructor, healing touch practitioner, and a Reiki master.

In accepting her award, Yasui thanked many people, including CNR professors Dr. Dorothy Larkin and Dr. Barbara Joyce, “a pioneer” who founded the holistic nursing program at CNR. “Serving as coordinator of holistic nursing at White Plains Hospital has been a tremendous joy and a privilege that I am grateful for every single day,” she said. “For me, holistic nursing is fundamental for all nursing and all care. It truly transformed me. I have witnessed great outcomes every day I work. We must continue to do this work and collect data and evidence to share with the next generation.”

Simons also took the time to acknowledge several alumnae in attendance, presenting them with certificates of achievement. They included: Mary Bradshaw ’03, Donna Brook ’07, Megan Burt ’97, Jazmin Bush ’12, Jeanne Campion ’99, Patricia Carroll ’01, Emily Casados ’16, Kathleen Cino ’02, Lovelace Dartey ’13, Angelica DeSantis ’16, Linda Gurick ’03, Ellen Lamonoff ’08, Tracey McGlinchey Huttick ’81, Ellen McMahon ’90, ’96, Caiocimara McPhee ’03, Deanna Rivera ’16, Abby Robin-Baer ’14, Deborah Steinberg ’16, and Patricia Stout-Traina ’91, ’97, ’16.  And in a surprise presentation, the SNHP faculty announced a special recognition award for their Dean, Deb Simons, in honor of her commitment to CNR, the School of Nursing & Healthcare Professions, and the pursuit of excellence in nursing education.

“In the past 40 years, nursing has come a long way and today the nursing profession is truly a force to be reckoned with,” said CNR President Dr. William Latimer in addressing the crowd of nearly 150 at the event, “I have ties with schools of nursing throughout the country and in speaking to my former colleagues about this milestone for the School of Nursing & Healthcare Professions, every one of them had a CNR story and knew what I’ve known for many years, that the nursing program at The College of New Rochelle has an exceptional reputation nationwide.”

SNHP 40th Anniversary Celebration