Nursing took center stage at the 29th commencement for the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, with 44 nurses among the first class at Campbell to earn degrees and with Friday’s speaker the director of education and practice for the state’s Board of Nursing.
But Crystal Tillman’s commencement address was valuable to all of the college’s graduates, stressing collaboration along all health care professions as the first of her three “keys to success” (the other two: growth and gratitude).
“Collaboration is the future of health care,” said Tillman, whose own clinical practice assists clients with addiction and opioid use disorders. “It’s about joint decision making among teams and taking ownership of those decisions and a collective responsibility for the outcomes. In essence, it’s working across all boundaries in a complex health care environment. The industry is no longer about working in silos. It’s no longer us versus them. It’s ‘we.’ We as a team to deliver the safest and best care possible, charged with being advocates to those in our care and speaking up for those who do not have a voice.”
Friday’s ceremony awarded 98 bachelor of science degrees in pharmaceutical sciences, clinical research, general sciences and nursing; 50 master of science degrees in pharmaceutical sciences, clinical research and public health; 112 doctor of pharmacy degrees; and one doctor of physical therapy degree.
Brittany Hudson of Benson was among the 44 to earn the University’s first Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees, and this summer she will begin work in the cardiovascular intermediate care unit at WakeMed Hospital. Donning the message “A Beautiful Day to Save Lives” on her mortar board — both a famous quote from the TV show Gray’s Anatomy and a line that holds meaning to her — Hudson said it was an honor to be a member of a historic class at Campbell.
“We just grew so close,” she said. “It was such a pleasure working in a team-based environment. We became a family — we all had the same challenges to overcome. It wasn’t easy, and there were some bumps in the road, but it was all worth it.”
Doug Currington of White Lake earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree Friday, leading the way as president of the PharmD Class of 2018, a role he said required doing all he could to make sure he and his classmates had the resources they needed to get through the curriculum. Currington, who will return in Campbell in the fall to earn his Masters in Public Health degree, called his time at Campbell — both graduate and undergraduate — “an amazing experience.”
“It’s said a lot, but really, this place instantly felt like family to me,” he said. “Not a day would go by where I didn’t feel comfortable talking to my professors, both on an off campus. They all had a hand in what I did, in and out of the classroom. They helped develop me professionally. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
When he earns his final degree next year, he hopes to work in rural, underserved areas like his hometown of White Lake, a town of 800 people in the southeast region of North Carolina and a town considered “medically underserved.”
“It’s just like Harnett County, except minus the giant university,” Currington said. “If I’ve learned anything, I’ve come to understand the difficulties and barriers some have in obtaining health care. I want to use the tools I’ve gained at Campbell and give back to those communities.”
Words of Wisdom
“As a graduate, remember that many others wanted to be in the seat you sit in today, and they would like to have the diploma that will soon be in your hand. With this diploma comes great rewards, but also great responsibility to be the professional you have prepared yourself to become. You’ve taken the road less traveled … and you took a step of faith to get here. This was an arduous and challenging road. If it was easy, anyone could have done it.”
— J. Bradley Creed, Campbell University president
“Ask yourself, what are you doing to spread yourself and improve your skills? Don’t get trapped into thinking good enough is good enough. Stretch yourself, keep your skills current and use the latest evidence-based practice. When you stop learning, you stop growing. And when you stop growing, you stop living.”
— Crystal Tillman, commencement speaker
Tillman began her commencement address by sharing her very close association with Campbell University. Her best friend in the second grade and beyond was a young girl named Leslie Campbell, granddaughter of Campbell’s second president of the same name and great-granddaughter of University founder James Archibald Campbell.
Tillman said as she grew up in Charlotte with Leslie Campbell, she realized the significance of her family name and educational heritage in North Carolina.
“I often asked her if she was considering attending Campbell, and Leslie would always reply, ‘No way,’” Tillman said. “She would say, ‘All my relatives live in Buies Creek, and they will tell my parents everything I do.”
The real reason, Tillman said, Leslie didn’t want to attend Campbell was because like her, she always wanted to be a nurse. And, of course, “at that time, Campbell had not nursing program.”
“I’m happy to say that today, there is now the Catherine W. Wood School of Nursing, part of the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences,” Tillman said. “Class, you are making history. All 44 of you.”