2011 Reunion Honors Eight Decades of School of Nursing Alumni

by Christina Bunner

Alumni Reunion 2011
Alumni Association president Don Boyd '06, Nurse Anesthesia student Monica Buff '09, and Wilhelmina M. Manzano, MA, RN, Senior VP and CNO, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
On Friday, May 6, 2011, eight decades of graduates were honored at the annual Columbia University School of Nursing (CUSON) Alumni Reunion.  Held in the elegant Riverview Terrace room of the Milstein Family Heart Center, the event featured an address by Dean Bobbie Berkowitz, a panel representing five decades of the School’s alumni, the election of the new Alumni Association board members, and both alumni and student awards.

After Sarah James ’97 presented the nominees for the new Alumni Association board members, they were voted in unanimously by the alumni present.  Board members include new president Don Boyd ’06, taking over for Roxana Sasse ’92, who has held the post for six years and was honored for her years of service by Midge Harrison Fleming ’69.  Other newly elected members are:  Laura Pearson Armstrong ’85, Sharron Close ’01, ’03, ‘11, Maria Magliacano ’06, Rosalie Perez ’04, ’07, Catherine Tanksley ’98, Glenn Wurtzel ’00, ’02 and Beth Zedeck ’04, ’06.

Alumni Reunion 2011
Dean Bobbie Berkowitz (center) with Linda Lyon Holton '61, Joan Ambrose McCormick '61, Barbara Kunzman Moore '61, and Pat Smith Langley '61

Dean Bobbie Berkowitz delivered the “State of the School” report, asking reunion attendees to consider the question, “What do we do best?”  She spoke about the emphasis on international collaborative research as well as her hope that the School will continue to promote social justice; innovative research, practice and policy; and help to eliminate and reduce health disparities in the community.  She reported that the School of Nursing’s financial health is strong, admissions are up by twenty percent this year, and the School’s diversity is greater now than it’s ever been.

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Gross Cohn ’09 moderated a panel consisting of alumni Sally-Ann McCarthy Whelan ’61, Anna Draper Shaw ’66, Susan Blizzard-Halleran ’76, Martha Cohn Romney ’81 and Yael Goller ’03, ’06, asking each of them to share why they attended Columbia, perceived differences in nursing practices between then and now and how their experiences at Columbia shaped them personally and professionally.  Though diverse in their backgrounds and experiences, one theme emerged in their responses—a Columbia Nursing education is entrenched in practice, and these alumni all voiced the belief that Columbia has the best program available to prepare students for what nurses actually do.   “I was born to do pediatrics,” said Ms. Goller, who graduated from the Combined BS/MS Program as well as the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program.  “Columbia was practical, feasible—a stepping stone to advanced education.”

Alumni Reunion 2011
"Now and Then" panelists Sally-Ann McCarthy Whelan '61, Anna Draper Shaw '66, Susan Blizzard-Halleran '76, and Martha Cohn Romney '81
New Alumni Association president Don Boyd awarded the Distinguished Young Alumni awards to three recent graduates: Vanessa Battista ’06, ’08, a pediatric nurse practitioner; Kirsten Malone ’05, ’09, a pediatric emergency room nurse in Brooklyn; and Kate Rossettie ’06, ’08, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Saint Paul’s Center in New York City. To read their biographies, click HERE.

Alumni Association Scholarships were presented to fifty master’s and doctoral students. These scholarships are made possible by the monies raised each year through the Annual Fund.

Before lunch, several of the 2011 scholarship recipients led tours of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (NYPH) and the School. Duri ng lunch, Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of NYPH, Wilhelmina Manzano, MA, RN addressed the audience.  Ms. Manzano talked about the state of nursing at NYPH, New York City and the country.

As always, Reunion was an opportunity for old friends to re-connect and for new friendships to form, as well as wonderful way to stay connected with the School and the profession of nursing.

To view photos from Reunion 2011, click HERE.