Dean Stephen Cavanagh, UC Davis Provost Mary Croughan and Susan Murin, interim dean for UC Davis School of MedicineFrom left: Dean Stephen Cavanagh, UC Davis Provost Mary Croughan and Susan Murin, interim dean for UC Davis School of Medicine

Last Thursday, more than 750 faculty, friends, families, staff and graduating students packed the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts to celebrate the School of Nursing’s graduating classes.

We celebrated the dedication, intellectual effort of 128 committed change agents who are poised to go out into the world and make a real difference. UC Davis Provost Mary Croughan told the graduates how inspired and in awe she is of all they have achieved and all they will accomplish throughout their careers to help others.

In the keynote address, Selu Vargas, a physician assistant from the Class of 2020, illustrated for students from four of the school’s different degree programs the common bond that they all share. She told them they are prepared to extend themselves beyond the margins of society’s privileged to the marginalized. She reminded them how they learned how to explore and confront their implicit biases. She encouraged them to explore introspectively what will keep their passion to make a difference ignited inside of them.

Those flames would not be possible were it not for the School of Nursing’s co-founder Gordon Moore. In March, Dr. Moore passed away at the age of 94. He was a brilliant scientist, business leader and philanthropist who, along with his wife of 72 years, Betty Irene Moore, created one of the largest grantmaking foundations in the country. Their goal was to “to create positive outcomes for future generations … to do something permanent and hopefully on a large scale.”

We are eternally grateful that they did and that they recognized that UC Davis was a place where innovation and leadership in nursing and health care could take root and flourish. As the world of health care evolves post-pandemic and beyond, we, led by Dr. Moore’s example, innovate in how technology guides the future of health care and develop new degree programs where our graduates can make the most impact.

Just as Gordon Moore was driven by an exceptional curiosity, generosity and unassuming commitment to hard work, so are we at the School of Nursing. We’re committed to going beyond in simulation training, recruiting and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds and cementing our leadership role in health care in the Sacramento region and beyond.

Dr. Moore once said, “If everything you try works, you aren't trying hard enough.”

I encouraged graduates to let his tenacity serve as an example that while their educations prepared them to pass their courses and prepare them for licensing exams, not everything they will try in the real world will work.

It is also a reminder for all of us. We are still discovering what health care in an endemic means. We can’t say for 100% certainty that another pandemic won’t be in our future.

But for our future registered nurses, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, we equipped them with the critical-thinking and know-how skills to tackle caring for people today and pivoting if needed in the future. We mentored our future nurse scientists to independently continue to ask the hard questions and identify the gaps in knowledge that can be answered through research. They join the more than 1,000 alumni who, every day, fulfill our vision of optimal health and health equity for all.

Our faculty have invested in their futures, just as Gordon and Betty Moore invested in the future of UC Davis. They laid a strong foundation from which many bright futures have grown. I am proud to lead a school that continues that legacy and works to change the future on a large scale.