Several Firsts for SGU 2011 Graduating Class

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On Saturday, May 14, St. George’s University held its annual Commencement Ceremony for the School of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate Studies Program. More than 300 students took to the stage to receive their diplomas at Patrick Adams Hall, the University’s newest and largest auditorium. This year’s Commencement Day also marked several firsts for the University. The commencement included the first cohort sponsored by the University of Botswana to earn their Bachelor of Preveterinary Medical Sciences; the first class to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN); and the charter class graduation of the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Multi-Sector Health Management.

Renowned Grenadian writer and poet, Dr. Merle Collins, OBE, PhD, was the keynote speaker, taking center stage to address all students and their families. Along with Dr. Collins, honored guests included Deputy Chair of the Conference of Churches in Grenada, Reverend Osbert James, PhD, and 2011 Distinguished Service Honoree Gloria Payne-Banfield, OBE, MSc. Ms. Payne-Banfield received St. George’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her outstanding service to the University; in acknowledgement of her long friendship with the University and leadership in forwarding its progress; and in gratitude for her advocacy and commitment to the evolution of graduate studies, research programs, and to the creation and development of the School of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, the University’s Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) presented the George B. Daniel Undergraduate Award to Ejaz Ramsingh, BS for his outstanding contribution to student life.

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In the School of Arts and Sciences, more than 250 undergraduate degrees were conferred and included Bachelors of Arts (BA), of Education (BEd), of Science (BS), or of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. Grenadian students made up the majority of the graduates and were addressed by Class Valedictorian, Alana Praimdass of Trinidad and Tobago. “It is important for us to realize that final examinations and graduation does not mark our end to the relationship we have with St. George’s University,” she emphasized during her speech. On behalf of the graduating class, Ms. Praimdass also expressed her gratitude for the support offered by the University staff and faculty. She reminded her fellow classmates, “We are the force that will drive this institution towards future success. We should wish to contribute in whichever manner possible to the enrichment and enhancement of the quality of education being received by the current and future students.”

The commence ceremony included a group of Batswana students—sponsored by the University of Botswana— to earn their BS in Preveterinary Medical Sciences in Grenada. Similarly, a handful of students who completed their first two years at Stony Brook University in New York also had their Bachelor’s degree conferred. Each of these students will continue onto the four-year veterinary medical program at St. George’s. Their graduation, and promotion into the School of Veterinary Medicine, speaks to the success of St. George’s collaboration with the University of Botswana and Stony Brook University.

The second half of the Commencement Day was dedicated to St. George’s graduate students. In the Graduate Studies Program, approximately 70 students earned their Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Health (MPH), or Master of Science (MSc) degrees. While four MBA graduates were members of the MBA in Multi-Sector Health Management charter class, the remaining MBA students specialized in the International Business.

MPH graduate, St. Lucian born Lydia Atkins, represented the graduate students during the ceremony as Class Speaker. Ms. Atkins joined St. George’s in 2010, excelling throughout her years in Grenada. She was selected as Class Speaker due to her unique combination of technical expertise and administrative experience in the health sector as well as community and youth development.

St. George’s University is proud of all its graduating students and confident its alumni will positively impact the world in each respective field.

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St. George’s and American University – A Unique Partnership, A Remarkable Experience

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St. George’s University student Krystle Noel recently returned from American University’s Washington DC campus. She is the first School of Arts and Sciences student to take advantage of the Washington Semester Program, a partnership between St. George’s University and American University. The International Business major spent her fall semester at American University—including a three week visit to China in November. Krystle has returned to the St. George’s campus with rave reviews of the program, saying, “This program reinforced so much of what I have learned at St. George’s—I felt very well prepared for participation in the program.”

Dr. Reccia Charles, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of the Department of Business, is behind the St. George’s partnership with American University. On the success of the first participant, Dr. Charles said, “In observing Krystle after her return, I can see a transformation in her outlook on the world as well as an increase in her overall confidence.” The Washington Semester Program allows students to research topics in their field of study, network with leaders and experts in their respective fields, engage in international travel, and build friendships with other college students— the byproduct of which is usually an increase in a student’s enthusiasm in their education. Dr. Charles continued, “I am very proud of Krystle’s success.”

The Washington Semester Program’s intense schedule included presentations from more than 50 guest speakers—including Krystle’s now favorite author, Pulitzer-winning New York Times columnist and author of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Freidman. In addition to rigorous study, Krystle, along with her classmates, had the opportunity to visit various government agencies and corporations in the US and China, including the Library of Congress; the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman; the International Monetary Fund and World Bank; the United States Federal Reserve; the New York Stock Exchange; Goldman Sachs; Beijing’s Peking University, Hyundai, and IDC China; Shanghai’s Autodesk (the company which produces AutoCad); and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Additionally, Krystle volunteered at the Annual Global Services Summit and interned at the Center for Social Leadership.

“It was better than I thought possible,” commented Krystle. “The University put so much effort into making the experience remarkable. It is something that I will be able to draw from for the rest of my life.” Krystle was very impressed by the cultural diversity she met in the Washington Semester Program and was happy to have been exposed to the business cultures of both China and Washington DC.

Dr. Charles offered insight into some of the challenges of recruiting for a study abroad program for local students. “The families of some students are often reluctant to allow their children to study abroad or travel much on their own or with peers,” she said. “However, the Washington Semester Program offers a supervised compromise that is acceptable to parents, especially with available generous financial aid. This unique program gives students an opportunity they might not have otherwise had to expand their knowledge beyond the borders of their home country.”

The next group of students is expected to go to Washington DC in Fall 2011. Beginning this spring, directors of the Washington Semester Program plan to hold information sessions via video conference to answer any questions students may have regarding the program.

St. George’s University, which began its partnership with American University in 2009, is the only university in the Caribbean (apart from Puerto Rico) to be part of this affiliation. Dr. Charles and the rest of the University have high hopes for the partnership as it extends St. George’s mission to offer an international education beyond its Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, to a blossoming School of Arts and Sciences.

St. George’s University Welcomes UWI Chancellor at SAS and GSP Commencement


Sir George Alleyne

On Saturday, May 15th St. George’s University (SGU) hosted its 2010 Commencement Ceremony in Charter Hall on the True Blue campus. The commencement was a combined ceremony of over 250 undergraduate and graduate students, 139 of whom are Grenada nationals.

Students and their families were honored by guest speaker Sir George Alleyne, Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. His poignant speech, “The Price of Privilege” emphasized each student’s responsibility as a privileged graduate of higher education and subsequent vessel of information; information that is to be shared for a greater good.

Having visited the University 30 years prior, Sir George Alleyne reflected upon how much the University has changed, and how its commitment to providing a superior, service-minded education to its student body now applies across many disciplines. As he addressed the graduates he expressed, “the great majority (of you) are from families in which a university graduate represents the exception rather than the rule.” He informed the graduates that “a university education provides benefits that goes beyond the individual graduate,” and challenged them to play an active and positive role in instituting societal change; change that addresses discrimination in all its existing forms.

“The currency in which you will pay this price of privilege has compassion, engagement, and commitment among its highest denominations,” said Sir George Alleyne. With the understanding that many of the graduates will likely occupy positions of influence and power in their countries, he charged them to apply the skills they acquired and the talents they possess to “sharing information for the creation of a better society.”

Dr. Allen Pensick, Provost of St. George’s University, reminded the graduates that “the term ‘commencement’ means the beginning of a journey rather than its end. You leave us equipped with the basic knowledge and skills for you to continue learning. This continued learning is absolutely necessary for all of us to keep pace with the ever-changing world in which we live.”

Chancellor of St. George’s University, Dr. Charles Modica, joined in extending his congratulations to the graduates and expressed pride at their accomplishments. He reminded the audience of the genesis of the University, stating “ …this University has its most important purpose – to educate Grenadians. We do give educational opportunities to people in other countries, and we educate many Grenadians. We are so proud of that.”

The valedictory address was delivered by Ms. Sharmaine Shallow of St. Vincent & the Grenadines who pursued her BSc in Life Sciences with a Marine Biology specialization. In her delivery she declared that “It is our time to leave SGU, but SGU shall not leave us. SGU is not merely a learning center. It is a diverse community that has shaped us and made it easier to enter into the world, small fish in a big pond. Small, but prepared! SGU has not only given us the knowledge for our respective careers but has opened our eyes to different ways of thinking and interacting with people. It truly has allowed us to ‘Think beyond’!”

Mr. Nicholas Cheronis, the graduate class speaker, was selected by his peers from a number of students with a grade point average of 4.0 in the Graduate Studies Program (GSP) and completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Environmental and Occupational Health. Like the valedictorian and other speakers, he acknowledge the impact of attending St. George’s University and he too challenged his peers not to be complacent with their achievement, but rather to continue in their pursuit of higher education, achieving rewarding careers and a maintaining the desire to positively impact their immediate surroundings.

The University was also pleased to have in attendance special guests Prime Minister Honourable Tillman Thomas; Minister for Education & Human Resource Development, Senator the Honourable Franka Bernadine and Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senator the Honourable Michael Lett.

Sir George Alleyne has had a remarkable career in academic medicine, administration, and as a global leader in health policy whose vision has served this region so well for many decades. Sir George has received numerous honorary degrees and awards in recognition of his work, including prestigious decorations and national honors from many countries. Of these Sir George is most proud of being awarded in 2001 the Order of the Caribbean Community, the highest honor that can be conferred on a Caribbean national.

Sir George joins a list of internationally recognized Caribbean luminaries whose lives and words have inspired St. George’s University Commencement Classes. Past speakers include the former Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Right Hon. Keith Mitchell; the Governor General of St. Lucia, Dame Pearlette Louisy; the Prime Minister of St. Vincent & Grenadines, Dr. The Hon. Ralph Gonsalves; the Hon. Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders of the Caribbean Court of Justice; Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor E. Nigel Harris and Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Sir K. Dwight Venner.

For a complete copy of Sir George Alleyne’s speech “The Price of Privilege”

St. George’s University Welcomes New Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences

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Dr. Beverly Bonaparte has been named St. George’s University Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences. Her extensive career is marked by a plethora of ground-breaking accomplishments both internationally and in her home country of Jamaica; work that has spurred important changes in the health care delivery system, government, academia, and private industry.

Dr. Bonaparte takes on the role as Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences as the first group of graduates from the Nursing Program prepares to receive their degree in nursing. In August 2008, St. George’s University inducted 25 students into the inaugural class of the four-year program leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Since that time, a total of 55 young men and women have enrolled in the program.

Dr. Bonaparte’s plan to build the program at St. George’s University is directly influenced by the extreme shortage of qualified nurses and nursing educators worldwide. Her initiative at St. George’s University includes: inviting qualified faculty with doctoral degrees in nursing to actively participate in the program; instituting stronger admission criteria; creating a pre-nursing foundation sequence which will include core curriculum in chemistry and biology, and expanding the use of the University’s high fidelity human simulation lab as part of the nursing curriculum’s clinical component. Dr. Bonaparte noted that a human simulation lab is a tremendous asset in clinical education and have changed the way in which nurses and health care professionals learn to do direct patient care.

As the University moves forward with these endeavors, Dr. Bonaparte will be reaching out to new audiences of nursing students, including recruiting liberal arts students on our own campus and elsewhere who may benefit from the option of obtaining a second degree in nursing. She has expanded the BSN program to provide the option of an accelerated 15 month program for students who enter the program with a bachelor’s degree in another field. Dr. Bonaparte also plans to build on the extensive affiliations St. George’s University currently has with other universities and health care institutions in the United States, Canada and the UK by responding to invitations to explore linkages between SGU and their nursing programs, thus providing international nursing education experiences for our nursing students. Additionally, emphasis on faculty research through collaboration with the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), and the establishment of an advisory committee of international nursing leaders will help secure St. George’s University reputation as a respected and sought after nursing program.

Dr. Bonaparte’s exceptional skill set will serve to strengthen the existing nursing program at St. George’s University, and create “a center of excellence in the country, region, and globe.” Her forty-year career is marked by a host of faculty and administrative positions at top-tier academic institutions which include: Chair of Master’s programs at New York University, Professor and Dean, Pace University, Lienhard School of Nursing; Chairperson and Professor, Medgar Evers College /CUNY, Department of Nursing; and Senior Fulbright Scholar, University of the West Indies, School of Nursing, Mona.

Throughout her academic career, Dr. Bonaparte has enhanced her credentials which include a PhD in Nursing from New York University with numerous certification programs from Harvard University, University of California at Berkeley, and University of Pennsylvania. She is eager to bring her experience to the St. George’s University Nursing Program, and expressed high hopes for its future. “All the right components are here on the True Blue campus, to support an excellent nursing program.”

In addition to her academic vocation, Dr. Bonaparte’s entrepreneurial spirit and talent has led to the establishment of her own international health care consulting firm. This has earned her a reputation for successfully restructuring and/or managing complex organizations which include the University Hospital of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, William Patterson University. She has also been engaged in capacity building projects for New York University AIDS Education and Training Center and the Education Development Center.

Prior to starting her Florida based international and health care consulting firm, Dr. Bonaparte headed the Corporate Nursing Division at the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (NYCHHC), the largest public hospital system in the United States. In this capacity, she managed a budget of more than $400 US million and was recognized for developing new programs that provided education and career advancement opportunities for the more than 11,000 nurses and nursing support staff in the HHC hospitals.

The Nursing Program was conceived as a response to the mandate by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that all nurses in the region hold a BSN degree by 2010. This program is uniquely structured to allow enrollees to complete the program in 3 years and sit for regional and international licensing exams. Upon successful completion of these exams, the students can join the workforce and be positioned to pursue advanced studies in nursing at the Master’s degree level.

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St. George’s University Partners with United Nations on Climate Change Convention

Spice Islander – Grenada

True to the spirit on which the institution was founded, St. George’s University extends a warm welcome to the delegates and is pleased to be a partner in this noble venture which encourages us all to “think beyond.”

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Brenda Stutsky Addresses Incoming Nursing Students

Keynote Speaker Brenda Stutsky’s Poignant Leadership Driven Address to Nursing Students

Distinguished guests, faculty, family, friends, and students:

I am so proud and honoured to be invited to speak at your Nursing Induction Ceremony. This is the day that you start writing the first page of your nursing story. Nursing has a rich history, and many stories have been told including those by Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, to Hiroko Minami, the current president of the International Council of Nurses, representing millions of nurses practicing in direct care, education, research, and leadership in our hospitals, clinics, nursing stations, schools, and homes, in urban, rural, and remote areas of more than 128 countries including Grenada. Many prominent leaders have guided our way, and today YOU begin to lead nursing into the future. You may be asking yourself right now, “How can I be a nursing leader when I am just starting?” James Kouzes and Barry Posner, researchers and authors of the “Leadership Challenge,” have identified five main practices of exemplary leadership based on asking thousands of individuals their best personal leadership stories. They found that when individuals are at their personal best they Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. I challenge you to start incorporating these leadership strategies into your nursing practice today, and if you do, I know you will be a nursing leader throughout your educational program and your nursing career.

Model the Way
Going first and setting an example, educating yourself, and doing what you say you will do, are examples of how you Model the Way. Just being here today, you are modeling the way for young women and men to follow in your footsteps and enter nursing. As you are ONLY the second class to begin your nursing education at St. George’s University, you will always be regarded as the ones who modeled the way. So make sure that during your time as a student at St. George’s, you share your stories of being a nursing student to your sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews. Set an example for them, and let them know that with hard work and determination that anything is possible.

Inspire a Shared Vision
To inspire a shared vision, you begin by imagining what could be, by dreaming, and creating something no one else has created. As students in a new nursing program, you are in an ideal position to establish a vision for your student body and this nursing program. Maybe your collective vision for this program is to be internationally recognized for producing extraordinary nursing graduates who are able to provide exemplary patient care not only here in Grenada, but around the world. I want my colleagues in Canada to know about you! Many know about your Medical program, but they don’t know you have started a Nursing program. How are YOU as a student body going to become internationally recognized? Start with small steps. I think one of the first things you have to do is to let the international nursing student community know that you exist. MAYBE you do that by starting your own student body Web site or wiki where you share your own knowledge and stories with each other. MAYBE you will then ask nursing students in neighbouring Carribean countries to join in. MAYBE your student body president then attends a nursing conference in the Unites States, England, Africa, or Canada, and shares your concept of an online community of learning for nursing students in the Carribean. Nurses in other countries love the idea and join your online community sharing their own expertise, knowledge, and stories. However you decide to inspire a shared vision, start small, but dream big, and follow that dream.

Challenge the Process
Kouzes and Posner say you must always ask, “Why are we doing it this way?” Since you will be one of the first students to complete the newly established courses, your faculty will rely on you to provide constructive feedback that will continually shape the nursing curriculum. Your clinical practice as students here in Grenada and other countries will challenge not only YOUR own nursing skills and knowledge, but it will be expected that YOU WILL CHALLENGE and question policies, procedures, and practices based on current evidence based knowledge, and not just accept “sacred cows” which are nursing practices that have gone on for years – just because – these sacred cows are not based on current evidence, and they may not necessarily be the best and safest practice for quality patient care. Leaders take risks, and although risks can sometimes result in failure, we learn from our mistakes and continue to challenge the process.

Enable Others to Act
Kouzes and Posner equate leadership with team effort. They also said that it is very easy to identify a true leader, and that is by how many times a leader says “We” as opposed to “I.” It is impossible to provide quality patient care without working as a team, for each healthcare professional and discipline adds their piece to the complex puzzle. Learn about your role as a nurse and how you can support your healthcare team, and in return, you will get the support that you need.

Encourage the Heart
Encouraging the Hearts of your fellow nursing students is extremely important. This is going to be a very demanding time in your lives, and you will need to make sacrifices to be successful. It is without question that you will need the support of your family whether near or far, I know, as I have had the support of my mom for many years, and she is here today, but you also need the support of your fellow students. Providing positive feedback and ongoing encouragement to your fellow nursing students is crucial, as there will be many fun and wonderful stories that you will be able to tell for years to come, but there will also be tough and challenging times, and you will need that “pat on the back” or that shoulder to cry on from someone who can really understand what you are going through. I must tell you that today in my role as a doctoral student, I have a support group that consists of fellow students from Alaska, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, and yes, Grenada. I must tell you, that your faculty ALSO needs an encouraging word along the way, so don’t forget to tell them when they did a great job when they helped you understand a difficult concept, or helped you get through a challenging clinical day.

I asked nurse educators who are participating in my dissertation research if they had any advice for you, and one educator from British Columbia, Canada, said, “Never stop asking questions.” One educator from Manitoba, Canada, said, “When I graduated from nursing school, two former graduates from the year ahead of us came back to tell us “what it was really like out there.” One of them, a male, said something that I still remember today “Accept the compliments and gratitude from your patients… it is what will keep you coming back”

In closing, I wish to show you the front page of the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper from Wednesday morning that shows Barak Obama as he became the 44th president of the Unites States, and the first African-American president in history. The headline reads, “A Dream fulfilled!” You have much in common with the new president, you both have a dream that is coming true, you are both leaders.

Second Class in Nursing Program Commences

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On Saturday, January 24, 2009, St. George’s University welcomed a new class of students into the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program. Keynote Speaker Brenda Stutsky encouraged the 26 young men and women to begin their education as leaders. This had great significance as these students represented the second class to embark on this degree at SGU.

Chancellor Charles Modica and Provost Allen Pensick congratulated and welcomed the students to this important profession as it is their commitment which will help stem the current nursing shortage worldwide. “You have entered a very demanding and altruistic profession and have embarked upon a journey of lifelong learning,” said Dr.  Pensick.   Chancellor Modica expressed proudly, ”You are a small class, but you are not small in spirit.”

Ms. Stutsky delivered a poignant Keynote Address as she drew upon the five main practices of leadership emphasized by James Kouzes and Barry Posner in their highly regarded book “Leadership Challenge.” She challenged her audience to incorporate these strategies into their education and professional careers.

The first of these principles, “Model the Way,” served as a powerful reminder that there will be many other students who follow their path, and they, as representatives of a new Nursing program, must lead by example as they pursue their dream and follow through with their commitment.

Since these students are fortunate to be part of this exciting endeavor at St. George’s University,  Ms. Stutsky asked them to seize this opportunity to “Inspire a Shared Vision,” not just in the Caribbean but throughout the world.   “Maybe your collective vision for this program is to be internationally recognized for producing extraordinary nursing graduates who are able to provide exemplary patient care not only here in Grenada, but around the world.  I want my colleagues in Canada to know about you,” she exclaimed.

As this group of students is in many ways trailblazers, Ms. Stutsky impressed upon them to “Challenge the Process.” Questioning policies, procedures and practices which originate from current evidence based knowledge versus accepting the “sacred cows” of nursing (nursing practices which have gone on for years but may not be the best and safest practice for quality patient care) define leadership. Betsy Stutsky continued to say that by asking “Why?” these students are also assisting the SGU faculty who will apply their constructive feedback to an evolving nursing curriculum.

According to Kouzes and Posner, a key component to a successful leader is the “we” factor, as a true leader uses the term “we” far more frequently than “I.” Providing quality health care to a patient is, in fact, a team effort where each healthcare professional plays an integral role in a successful outcome.  Ms. Stutsky explained to her audience that their role as a nurse both provides support for their team, but in-turn requires support in order to perform at their best.
The final aspect to successful leadership was less strategic in thought and humanistic in practice. Ms. Stutsky simply asked the students to encourage their colleagues, as positive feedback and support will sustain them through the difficult and challenging periods of their education.

In closing, this dedicated and inspiring woman congratulated the students as they begin a new chapter in their lives; and as she showed them a newspaper headline from the morning after the US Presidential election of Barack Obama, she explained that like this new President, these students are also leaders beginning the process of fulfilling a dream.

Brenda Stutsky, a registered nurse in Canada for over 25 years, has played an integral role in nursing education programs for the past 17 years.  She holds an appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Manitoba and is currently the Director, Nursing Education at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, a major tertiary hospital in Canada employing approximately 7,000 health professionals and support staff.  Ms. Stutsky is also responsible for leading just over 30 nurse educators in the orientation and continuing education of about 2,300 nurses employed at the hospital.

Ms. Stutsky graduated with a diploma in nursing from the Misericordia General Hospital School of Nursing in Winnipeg, Canada in 1983.  Over the past 25 years, her clinical practice has focused on women’s health, emergency nursing, coronary care nursing and intensive care nursing.

She is a lifelong learner, completing a certificate in Intensive Care Nursing, a baccalaureate nursing degree from the University of Manitoba, and a master of science in nursing degree from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.  In 2008, Ms. Stutsky completed an Educational Specialist degree from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, where she is now completing her doctoral dissertation in Computing Technology in Education.  The focus of her dissertation is empowerment and leadership development of Canadian nurse educators participating in an online story-based learning community.

St. George’s University’s Nursing Program was conceived as a response to the mandate by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that all nurses in the region hold a BSN degree by the year 2010.  This program is uniquely structured to allow enrollees, after 30 months, to sit regional and international licensing exams.  Upon successful completion of these exams, the students can enter the workforce while completing their studies.

Read Brenda Stutsky’s Keynote Address

Dr. Judith Balcerski Congratulates Inaugural Nursing Class

Keynote speaker Dr. Judith Balcerski, a registered nurse who served as Dean of the Barry University School of Nursing for 33 years, congratulated the “brave and privileged individuals” of SGU’s first nursing class.  

My greetings to the dignitaries, administrators, and faculty members.  Special greetings to the parents, family, friends, and especially nursing students.

Congratulations on being the first nursing class at St. George’s University.  You are both brave and privileged to be here beginning your nursing education! You are entering nursing in the company of many outstanding women and men:
The Knights Templar ministering on the battlefields;
Catherine of Sienna, one of the first nurses of the 12th century, the patroness of nursing;
Clara Barton, the creator of the Red Cross;
Florence Nightingale who led her colleagues in a sit-down strike to improve the care of soldiers;
Mother Teresa, Nobel peace winning nurse;
women and men who rode horseback into battlefields and who served in field hospitals;
women and men who conduct nursing research to dispel myths and extend lives;
women and men who deliver and care for infants;
and women and men who sit with the person who is dying.
These heroic nurses brought nursing to where it is today.

One definition of nursing is that it’s a Science and an Art.  I am going to add that it is also Sense and Heart.  Science, Art, Sense, Heart.

The science part is clear because you will be caring for persons with bodies and minds.  Nursing care is based on evidence rather than myth.  You will learn the evidence of science in your anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, sociology, and psychology courses.  You will also study nursing science and read nursing research.  When you practice nursing according to evidence based science and research, rather than myth, you will be successful.  Nursing is a science.

Nursing is an art because you will be caring for people.  No two individual’s responses to illness are alike. While you must learn procedures in your nursing courses, frequently you will have to be creative in how you design nursing care for each individual.  Your patient may not eat.  Be creative.  Your patient may not sleep.  Be creative.  Your patient may refuse a treatment because of fear.  Be creative.  How will you learn to be creative?  Painting, sculpture, jazz, and poetry are creative accomplishments.  Studying art, music, and literature in your required courses helps you to learn to be creative.  You will then be more able to propose creative solutions to confounding nursing problems.  Nursing is an art, a creative art.

To Science and Art I add Sense.  Good sense will benefit your patient and yourself.  When you make a mistake, (because we all have and you will), good sense will give you courage to tell your instructor or the Sister immediately, so that a remedy can be taken and harm prevented.  When your patient suggests there is a better way to do a procedure, good sense will support you as you consider the suggestion seriously.  Good sense will sustain you when you are tired or frustrated and need to step away for a few minutes to take a deep breath to refresh yourself.  When you are corrected by a supervisor, instructor, or physician (and you will be) good sense will permit you to listen to their concern with an open attitude.  Nursing is sense, good sense.
To Science, Art, and Sense, I add one more attribute: Heart.  Heart is why you came to nursing.  You already have heart for persons who are ill.  You want to help them get well, or have less pain, or sleep more restfully, or have a peaceful passing when a cure is impossible.  Heart is the feeling at the end of every day, that you have contributed something very important to someone’s life.  Heart is what presses you to care for someone different from yourself: of another culture, skin color, intellectual capacity, or social level; to care for a criminal and the queen equally.  Heart supports you to care for persons who are impatient, rude, unclean, or manipulative because they are ill and need your care.  Heart compels you to care for an elder woman with Alzheimer’s as if she is your grandmother, a drug addict as your brother, an infant with Down’s syndrome as your child.  Nursing is Heart.

Finally, remember these four:  nursing is Science, Art, Sense, and Heart. SASH.  Remember nursing as a sash, a mantle across your shoulders of science, art, sense, and heart.

If I could make an assignment it would be to require you to read the biographies of outstanding nurses.  Ask nurses you meet to tell you their heart experiences.  As strange as it may sound, read the obituaries of nurses recently passed in your own country. Search these stories for nursing heart.

Starting with this induction ceremony today, write your own stories.   Keep a diary of the heartfelt experiences you have during your journey in nursing education and nursing practice.  Your heart stories will fill your soul and spirit with a return immensely greater than a grade A on a paper, a promotion to a higher position, or even the gratitude bestowed on you by a patient.  It will make you profoundly proud to be a professional nurse.

Congratulations on this beginning, and may God speed you on your journey.

Inaugural Nursing Program Commences

On Saturday, August 23rd, St George’s University inducted 25 students into the inaugural four-year program leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. In a ceremony attended by Grenada’s Prime Minister, Hon. Tillman Thomas, the charter class was urged to follow the example of the many outstanding role models in their profession.

inaugural nursing program students

Provost of St. George’s University, Dr. Allen Pensick, used the occasion to spotlight the illustrious past of the profession which stemmed from individuals’ desire to serve the needs of the sick.  Keynote speaker Dr. Judith Balcerski, a registered nurse who served as Dean of the Barry University School of Nursing for 33 years, congratulated these ‘brave and privileged individuals’ on being the first nursing class at SGU.  She encouraged them to continually reflect upon the many outstanding men and women who entered the profession years before: Catherine of Sienna, Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale and Mother Theresa to name a few.  Dr. Balcerski explained that learning their stories will bring to life the heart and soul of the nursing profession and will serve as inspiration throughout their journey in nursing education and nursing practice.

Drawing upon an impressive career, Dr. Balcerski eloquently defined the profession as both a science and an art, to which she added “sense and heart.”  From these four words, Dr. Balcerski created an acronym, SASH, which she threaded throughout her speech and inspired a new generation of nurses.  “Remember nursing as a sash, a mantle across your shoulders of science, art, sense, and heart.”

Judith BalcerskiDr. Balcerski encouraged the students to “practice by evidence rather than myth,” as they apply the skills learned in the anatomy, physiology and chemistry classrooms. This, she explained, is the science aspect of the nursing profession.  She then defined the art of nursing, and encouraged the students to employ creative methods in dispatching their duties for the benefit of their patients.  Creativity, said Dr. Balcerski, can help a patient accept treatment when they are fearful, eat when then have no appetite and sleep when they are not willing.   The sense comes into play each day, as good sense sustains oneself when tired, frustrated and in need of a fresh perspective. Above all, Dr. Balcerski stressed, “heart is what presses you to take care of someone who is different from you. Heart will press you to take care of the criminal and the Queen equally.”

To mark their entry into nursing, the students were presented with stethoscopes and lamps.  During the ceremony the aspiring nurses joined members of the profession in making the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

The Nursing Program was conceived as a response to the mandate by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that all nurses in the region hold a BSN degree by the year 2010.  This program is uniquely structured to allow enrolees, after 30 months, to sit regional and international licensing exams.  Upon successful completion of these exams, the students can join the workforce while completing their studies. Chancellor of the University, Dr. Charles Modica says that through this initiative, St. George’s University is extending its commitment to building human resource capacity, increasing access to quality tertiary education and improving health care in developing countries.

Read Dr. Judith Balcerski’s Keynote Address

21st Century Caribbean Literati Celebrated

dr merle collinsIt was an exciting week at True Blue, one that celebrated the cross-cultural impact of Caribbean women’s literature throughout the 21st century. From May 19 through May 23, St. George’s University hosted the 11th Conference of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars (ACWWS).  The conference theme was Traditions and Legacies, Revisions and Interventions: Caribbean Women Writings in the 21st Century. 

With over 70 presenters, which included Grenadian poet and novelist, keynote speaker Dr. Merle Collins, the Conference provided an opportunity for participants to immerse themselves in Caribbean folk culture, oral histories, and creative and critical writing celebrating the artistry of women writers across the Caribbean, South America, Central America, North America and Europe.

Commenting on the impact of this conference on both the University and Grenada, Dr. Antonia MacDonald–Smythe, Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and Conference Chair, said: “Such a conference, in showcasing the University and in particular the School of Arts and Sciences, can lead to future collaborative efforts with other universities such as work–study programs, student exchange and faculty exchange programs. Students preparing for regional examinations such as CXC and CAPE have read about many of these writers. Here is an opportunity to not only meet them but to engage in discourse. Additionally, conferences such as this one can be an event on the cultural calendar of Grenada.”

On Tuesday, May 20, Dr. Merle Collins’ presentation took the form of a public lecture at Bell Lecture Hall.  Dr. Collins, a prolific writer and Professor of English and Caribbean Literature at the University of Maryland spoke about “Caribbean Women Writing in the 21st Century: Visions to Recover, Creations to Re-Create.” The feature address traced the unwritten histories of Grenadian and Caribbean women whose acts of rebellion shaped the future of the Caribbean.  Their interventions provide writers and scholars with the fertile ground on which to cultivate a Caribbean literary tradition.

Another conference highlight was its plenary sessions, which were well attended by high school students and by students of the community college.  The first plenary of Caribbean women writers focused on Caribbean writers and the factors that shape their writing and publishing lives, while the plenary on scholars explored the ways in which Caribbean writers are manipulating  form and genre in the articulation of the thematics of community.

On Thursday, May 22 various authors including Dr. Dessima Williams of Brandeis University and Dr. Merle Collins  presented on “Remembering the Grenada Revolution from 11:15 am to 1:00 pm.  Topics included “The Storm That Never Ended: How the Grenada Revolution Stays Alive,” “The Legacy of the Grenada Revolution in Literature,” “Hurricane Histories:  Landscapes and Languages of Revolutionary Memory,” and “Say It In Performance:  The Story That is Still Difficult to Speak.”  This session was followed by a presentation of Dr. Collins’ video documentary entitled “Caribbean Nation: Saraka and Nation in Grenada and Carriacou” from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm.

Other featured presentations included “Mémoires et Traumatismes” (Memories and Traumatism) by novelist, poet and journalist Evelyne Trouillot on Wednesday, May 21 at 4:45 pm; “Del Alma al Sol, del sol al alma: Intervenciones Personales de una Artista Dominican-York, en Estos Tiempos Glocales” (Soul to Sun, Back and Forth and All in Between: Interventions of the Self by a Dominican-York Artist) by actress, writer and theater director Josefina Baez on Thursday, May 22nd at 11:15 am; and “Departure and Arrival, Alienation and Familiarity” by Dutch writer Ellen Louise Ombre on Friday, May 23rd at 11:15 am.  All presentations were held at the Bourne Lecture Hall.  A special Open Mike Night at Coconut Beach Restaurant featured the work of

Oonya Kempadoo and members of the Writers’ Association of Grenada (WAG).   
Oonya Kempadoo is a writer who was born in Sussex, England, in 1966 of Guyanese parents.  She was brought up in Guyana and has since lived in Europe and various islands in the Caribbean, and now resides in Grenada.  Her first novel, Buxton Spice, was published to great acclaim in 1998, and was nominated for the 2000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. She was named a Great Talent for the Twenty-First Century by the Orange Prize judges and is a winner of the Casa de las Américas Prize.

Dr. Meredith Gadsby, President of ACWWS, thanked Committee Chair Dr. Antonia MacDonald-Smythe for a magnificent job in hosting the event.  “St. George’s University has opened its doors to us, graciously hosting our organization.  We are forever grateful to the administration and staff of the University, especially Dr. Michelene Adams (Committee Chair), Ms. Shivaughn Hem-Lee-Forsyth (Director of Accommodation) and Mr. Kiernan Rooney (Activities Liaison).”
The general public was invited to attend the public lecture and presentations to engage with the producers of Caribbean Literature.