NEWS | June 10, 2016

UC Davis nursing school hosts fifth graduation celebration

Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing celebrates 60 graduates



The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis hosted its fifth graduation celebration, lauding the accomplishments of 52 master’s-degree students and eight doctoral candidates.

School of Nursing graduation
Asssociate Dean for Acamedics Theresa A. Harvath, left, and Dean Heather M. Young, right, present Assistant Adjunct Professor Kupiri Ackerman-Barger with the teaching excellence award.

"From our first meeting, we saw your leadership potential. In the weeks, months, years and sleepless nights that have followed, we have been amazed to watch your potential blossom during your time here,” said Heather M. Young, founding dean at the school-wide celebration June 9. “Now it’s time for a new journey. Now you embark upon the opportunity to enact your vision. Whether you’re a clinician, serve in academia, or spearhead health in practice or policy, you have the opportunity to lead and make a difference.”

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.

 “I remember feeling humbled being accepted to this class and humbled by my new classmates ― their intelligence, their level of accomplishments, their talents and their passions,” Dessie Paraskevas Hammond, a physician assistant graduate, told members of her class. “Let us approach our new journey with humility, so we can avoid the trap of pride, which tries to rob us of the experience of learning and growing.”

“All of you can accomplish anything,” added Mary Cignarella, a master’s-degree leadership graduate. “It is with this determination and knowledge that we’ve acquired from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing that we can bring about transformative change.”

School of Nursing doctoral alumna Deborah Greenwood delivered the keynote address and encouraged graduates to serve as role models for others.

“Dare to make your own future and inspire others to see your vision,” Greenwood said. “I encourage you to continue to walk through the open doors you see that might be frightening or not clearly on your career path. While at the same time, stay connected to your colleagues and the relationships you have cultivated while you have been here.”

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

  • Excellence in Leadership Development: Alexandra Sabella
  • Excellence in Interprofessional Education: Annie Ngo Tat
  • Excellence in Transformative Research: Sally Moyce
  • Excellence in Cultural Inclusiveness: Gloretha Wilcots
  • Excellence in Innovative Technology: Goretti DeNava Arreygue

For the first time, students and faculty submitted nominations for the Teaching Excellence Award, the recipient deserving special recognition for his or her enthusiasm in the classroom, teaching innovations, responsiveness to students, and ability to stimulate thought, involvement and independent efforts by students. Associate Dean for Academics Theresa Harvath presented the inaugural award to Kupiri Ackerman-Barger, an assistant adjunct professor and assistant director for the Master's Entry Program in Nursing.

“Piri is an exceptional leader, collaborator and mentor who empowers her students by preparing them with all of the support, resources and guidance needed,” Harvath said. “She is a true collaborator and is untiring in her efforts to ensure quality and fairness. Her focus on education is unique and serves as a model to all of us.”

The event marks the school’s fifth graduation celebration since the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing was established in 2009 and opened its doors in 2010. The school now boasts 197 alumni.

The Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Degree Programs, which include master’s degrees in leadership, nurse practitioner, physician assistant studies and entry-level nursing, as well as a doctoral program, are led by an interprofessional team of more than 60 faculty from across UC Davis. Click here to view a video from the event. Learn more at