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Seventh Annual White Coat Ceremony

by Katie Gortz on 12/07/2021


The Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing Class of 2024 nursing students celebrated their transition from the classroom to clinical practice at the seventh annual White Coat Ceremony.

SLU-Madrid nursing faculty presented each student with a white lab coat, a symbol of the health care profession. The act confirmed the students' commitment to the noble profession of nursing and to the mission of the Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing: promoting quality health care of individuals, families and communities to alleviate ignorance, poverty, injustice and hunger. SLU-Madrid nursing professor, Heather Sañudo served as master of ceremonies for the occasion. 

White Cloak Ceremony

SLU-Madrid faculty Jane Billinghurst and Anya Hillery, Ph.D. present the white coats and cloak nursing students Rachel Chang and Kelley Cochran. 

Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing faculty connected via videoconference from St. Louis to share words of congratulations with the students. Danny Willis, D.N.S., dean and professor, reminded students that the ceremonious cloaking of the white coat is a long-standing and wide-spread tradition that they are now part of.  Kris L'Ecuyer, Ph.D., associate dean for undergraduate education and pre-licensure nursing education, urged students to pat themselves on the back, stressing that making it to this milestone moment should truly be a source of pride. She also urged students to thank their families for helping them discover their passion for nursing and enroll in SLU. Level One Program Director and Professor, Karen Curvar, Ph.D., applauded students for their energy, hard work and passion. "You are well on your way to becoming great nurses," she concluded.

Health Science Program Director Tania de la Fuente, Ph.D., introduced this year's keynote speaker, Belén Sánchez, who works as a nurse at the Sanitas Zarzuela Hospital, where SLU-Madrid students complete their clinical practicums. Sánchez likened her own studies of nursing to those of the students before her, recalling the emotions she felt as an aspiring nurse studying overseas in the United Kingdom. "Facing new situations can be terrifying," she said. Nonetheless, she deemed her time overseas to be one of the best experiences of her life. She closed with words of advice for the nursing students, including a reminder to never forget "the power of a smile."

The Class of 2024 student speaker was Maggie Watson, who took the audience back in time, recalling her tears of joy and disbelief when she found out she had been accepted to the School of Nursing and the feeling of being too young to wear nursing scrubs when she tried them on in the SLU bookstore. For Watson, the official White Coat Ceremony in Madrid was a moment she had long dreamed of. 

Watson went on to share the story of her sister Anna's battle with narcolepsy as a young child, and the impact that her sister's nurses had not only on the patient but the whole family. The nurses showed Watson the meaning of empathy. 

"Remember that the white coat being put on you today should remind you of the most important qualities of nursing. Let the compassion and empathy that your hearts hold remind you of the gifts that you have. Let it remind you of how much of an impact you will make on your patients and everyone in your patients' lives. When you feel burned out, tired, that you don't deserve a spot here, remind yourself of your why and let that drive you... The most important nurse you will ever be is one who shows compassion and empathy and I know for certain that your hearts are overflowing with these two qualities," she said. 

Also participating in the event were SLU-Madrid faculty Jane Billinghurst and Anya Hillery, Ph.D., who, together with Sañudo, ceremoniously cloaked the students with their white coats.

SLU-Madrid Director and Academic Dean, Paul Vita, Ph.D., concluded the event with words of tribute. 

The following students were honored at the ceremony:

Alyssa Bray 
Lauren Carroll 
Rachel Chang 
Kelley Cochran 
Tatiana Cuadra 
Mary Davis 
Elena Escalante 
Caroline Eveker 

Kendall Gawthrop 
Luke Gehringer 
Nelle Henning 
Alexandria Johnston 
Annie Kim 
Payton Lyon 
Sara Maj 
Shannon Masterson 

Caroline Michael 
Lauren Muse 
Melanie Ocampo 
Mary Sprauer 
Caroline Tooley 
Margaret Watson
Robyn Zelinski

Congratulations to the Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing Class of 2024!