Samford University nursing graduate John Derrick told his classmates they represent "the very best of nursing, a profession that recognizes global human worth and dignity." The former missionary who came back to Samford to earn a nursing degree reminded fellow 2008 graduates they have the potential to change the world.
"Go forward knowing that you will make a difference in people's lives," he told graduates of Samford's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing. "Trust that God has brought you to this point and will guide you to places you have never imagined.
"Maintain the courage to care," he charged them. "Be your true self. Live the dream."
Derrick, a training specialist with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's Global Missions, earned his bachelor of science in nursing degree summa cum laude and posted the highest academic average among the 2008 graduates.
The nursing school prepared them well, he reminded the graduates, teaching "the importance of excellence, the benefit of discovery and research, and the value of community."
He added, "Thanks to the nurture of this faculty I feel able to swab the back of a kid's throat, run and interpret an EKG, give a shot in the muscle of your choice or to sit at the table with representatives from UNICEF and World Vision to discuss global healthcare needs of children."
Derrick said he often was asked why he sought a nursing degree. "My greatest joy in life is listening to my kids laugh," he said. "I have seen the opposite–where children are abandoned, hurting, vulnerable. I want to live in a world where every child has the opportunity to have a childhood–to laugh and play. I believe nursing is the best way to help make that happen."
Also on the program, nursing senior Mary Katherine Nunnally of Marble Falls, Texas, received the John C. Pittman Spirit Award for Samford's Class of 2008.