NEWS | June 15, 2018

UC Davis nursing school hosts graduation celebration

Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing celebrates inaugural nursing graduates


The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis lauded the accomplishments of 128 master’s-degree students and six doctoral candidates at its seventh graduation celebration.

SON celebration
A graduate earns congratulations from a faculty member after the 2018 Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Graduation Celebration. The annual event recognizes graduates of the school’s five degree programs, including master’s-degree entry-level nursing, physician assistant, family nurse practitioner and leadership programs along with a doctoral program.

The celebration included members of the inaugural class of Master’s Entry Program in Nursing, many of whom are already working as registered nurses across the state. It is also the final event presided over by Founding Dean Heather M. Young. She steps down later this summer from her leadership post of the past decade and transitions into a faculty position, where she can focus more on her research into healthy aging and family caregiving.

“I stepped outside my comfort zone to launch this school. Many of you took a chance by joining a school in its infancy — and look how far we have come,” said Young. “All of you are beyond my wildest dreams. I am thrilled with the enduring strength of our initial vision, of the commitment shared by so many to advance health and improve health care, and of the diversity of our students, faculty and staff.”

With this graduation, for the first time, the number of School of Nursing alumni exceed the number of current students. The milestone illustrates the school’s accomplishments since the founding grant was first announced in 2007 and when the first students entered in 2010. This year’s graduation also offered students a chance to reflect on their studies to become physician assistants, family nurse practitioners, nurses and nurse leaders, researchers and educators.

“I’m proud to say that Betty’s army of RNs are now caring for patients across the lifespan,” said Neal Oppenheimer, a graduate from the inaugural master’s-entry program class. “From critically ill newborns in neonatal intensive care units to skilled nursing care given to older adults and everything in between.”

“Let us challenge and inspire each other,” added Claire Valderama-Wallace, a graduate of the Doctor of Philosophy program. “Let us listen when youth, students, patients and those new to our field hold us accountable.”

Nursing faculty recognized five students with awards of excellence highlighting the school’s five core attributes:

  • Excellence in Leadership Development: Malalai Yusufzai
  • Excellence in Interprofessional Education: Emily Jing
  • Excellence in Transformative Research: Elaine Talley
  • Excellence in Cultural Inclusiveness: Cody Potter
  • Excellence in Innovative Technology: Sarina Fazio

School of Nursing students and faculty also submitted nominations for the Dignity Health Dean’s Leadership Awards, which were made possible by the Dignity Health Dean’s Chair for Nursing Leadership Endowment. The awards honor staff and faculty in three areas: Diversity and Inclusion, Teaching and Research. Those recognized include:

  • Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion: Jann Murray-García
  • Excellence in Teaching: Sam Sankaran-Walters
  • Excellence in Research: Sheryl Catz

Following the School of Nursing event, the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Degree Programs graduates received their degrees at the formal UC Davis Graduate Studies commencement later that day.

The Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Degree Programs, which includes master’s degrees in leadership, family nurse practitioner, physician assistant studies and entry-level nursing, as well as a doctoral program, are led by an interprofessional team of more than 55 faculty from across UC Davis. This video captures highlights of the celebration. Click here to view a program from the celebration. Learn more at