Honored School of Nursing alumnae share their Certificates of Appreciation at the celebration of diversity nursing alumni event in April. From left are Stephanie Brahimi (Class of 1988), Capt. Robin Gibbs (Class of 1987), Miriam Spells (Class of 1986), and Meta McGhee (Class of 1974).

Nursing's 50th anniversary

Event celebrates diversity, alumni achievements


9:38 a.m., May 6, 2016--The University of Delaware School of Nursing, in collaboration with the Nursing Workforce Diversity Program, hosted a special alumni event in honor of the School’s 50th anniversary on Wednesday, April 13.

The event, “Breaking Barriers & Opening Doors,” commemorated the numerous achievements accomplished by minority alumni since graduating from UD. 

Campus Stories

From graduates, faculty

As it neared time for the processional to open the University of Delaware Commencement ceremonies, graduating students and faculty members shared their feelings about what the event means to them.

Doctoral hooding

It was a day of triumph, cheers and collective relief as more than 160 students from 21 nations participated in the University of Delaware's Doctoral Hooding Convocation held Friday morning on The Green.

With opening remarks from both the Nursing Workforce Diversity team, and Susan Hall, deputy dean in the College of Health Sciences, the evening’s focus on diversity reflects the University’s commitment to creating a culturally competent workforce. 

This special evening brought both current students and alumni together to celebrate the diversity in the School of Nursing, which first opened its doors to students of color in 1969. Forty-five years later, the School of Nursing obtained a federal grant under the direction of Cynthia Diefenbeck, Paula Klemm and Pia Inguito, as part of their efforts to help increase enrollment of underrepresented students and further promote diversity in the nursing workforce. 

This Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant Program, recently rebranded RNvision, was created to provide underrepresented students with both financial and academic resources favorable to their success. 

Under the direction of KaWansi Newton-Freeman, recruitment and retention coordinator and with the support of Marian Lucas, administrative assistant, the RNvision program provides peer mentoring and professional development for all of its participants. 

In honor of the special event, a commemorative video, created in collaboration with Christiana Care Health System, highlighted the experiences of two recent BSN graduates: Turquoise Abdullah, Class of 2014, and Stephanie Agyemang, Class of 2015, who both expressed the positive impact mentoring had on their academic success in the School of Nursing. 

The keynote speaker for the celebration was alumna Marcella A. Copes, who earned her bachelor of science in nursing, master’s degree in nursing and doctorate from UD. She currently serves as president and CEO of MTB Health Care Consulting. 

Introduced by Carol Henderson, vice provost for diversity, Copes presented a poignant and inspirational talk to the audience, sharing intimate details of her personal hardships and struggles while a student at UD. She painted a vivid picture of racial discrimination and mistreatment that, unfortunately, was an everyday reality for many minority students during the 1970s. Despite these challenges, though, she evolved into a successful nurse educator, mentor and community leader, all of which allowed her to fully embrace this bitter past. The success of Copes and her peers, as well as the achievements of other trailblazers, helped break the barriers and open the doors to future generations of diverse nurse professionals. 

Article by KaWansi Newton-Freeman

Photos by Doug Baker

News Media Contact

University of Delaware
Communications and Public Affairs

UDaily is produced by
Communications and Public Affairs

The Academy Building
105 East Main Street
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716 | USA
Phone: (302) 831-2792
email: publicaffairs@udel.edu