AN ‘UNFORGETTABLE’ JOURNEY: 73 percent of graduates to walk Saturday

James Vaughn

“Unforgettable,” Jordan Morrison said about his four years at USI.

Morrison, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nursing Saturday, will receive the President’s Medal, the highest honor awarded to a graduate.

“I could not have accomplished what I have without my wonderful supporting family, my faculty and peer mentors, all of my classmates and all of the lifelong friends that I have made here,” Morrison said. “This award belongs to them as much as it does to me.”

Once Morrison, who holds a 3.9 GPA, finishes finals next week, he will begin a new adventure in the Surgical, Trauma and Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Deaconess Hospital’s main campus. Once he passes his state board examination, he will be able to work as a registered nurse within the unit.

“I love interacting with new people and I love being able to help and offer support to those that need it during delicate times,” he said. “I’ve had wonderful experiences with other nurses in the hospital setting and I think it’s amazing the difference they can make in patients’ and families’ lives.”

On top of his degree in nursing, Morrison completed a minor in Spanish studies.

He said the pressures to go out and have fun were always there.

“Luckily, I was able to remind myself that I was at USI for my education first and foremost,” he said.

He had to learn time management skills in order to have fun and spend time with his friends.

Morrison is a first-generation college student, but he said that doesn’t mean his parents didn’t do all they could to provide for him.

“My parents were wonderful providers and supported us in anything that we did,” he said. “My family was and continues to be very close, and my parents always encouraged all of us to continue our education and personal growth. I was very fortunate to grow up with such positive mentors as parents and four older brothers to look up to and admire.”

If Morrison could tell his freshman self one thing, it would be to make the most of every opportunity in college and cherish every moment.

“It has gone by very quickly and I will miss all of the experiences I had here at the university,” he said.

Morrison is just one of 1,487 students eligible to graduate this weekend and 73 percent of those students are walking.

“That’s the highest number we’ve ever had,” said Cynthia Brinker, vice president for government relations.

Forty-eight percent of the graduating class walked in 2008, she said.

Something new this year is a flower vendor. A canopy will be on hand Saturday for families who want to show their support by purchasing bouquets for their graduate.

“A lot of people will go to Schnucks or something,” Brinker said. “This way it’s convenient.”

Last year, Brinker told The Shield she keeps an eye on graduates’ shoes. This year, she recommends everyone do it.

“It’s the one thing I find most interesting,” she said. “Some are more elaborate than other ones. You see everything from flip-flops to platform heels.”

Graduation candidates in the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Nursing and Health Professions each received up to eight tickets for their guests. The university announced a couple of weeks ago that no extra tickets would be available.

“The LA has a 79 percent participation rate. Over 300 students are participating,” Brinker said. “So that’s the reason. They’ve exhausted the allotted number of tickets.”

However, the university will live stream all of the undergraduate ceremonies in the University Center East Conference Center.

For the first time, the university created a hashtag for the ceremonies. Students and families can tweet at #USIGrad.