The College of Staten Island Department of Nursing and the CSI Alumni Association hosted CSI Nursing graduates; faculty, past and present; and staff to celebrate all generations of CSI nurses on May 12, 2009, the last day of National Nurses Week and, coincidentally, the birthday of Nurse Florence Nightingale. The evening honored the 25th Anniversary of the Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, 42 years of the Associate in Applied Science, and seven years of the Master of Science degree in Nursing at CSI.
Dr. Mary O’Donnell, Chairperson of the Nursing Department remarked “Everybody that I speak to tonight is thanking us for doing this…everyone is thrilled. It’s wonderful…. we are so happy about it.” She was not alone, most of the 235 guests who attended the reception at the Li Greci’s Staaten, felt the same way, as did Peg Kittle, who graduated in the Class of 1984. “I owe CSI everything,” she said. “It opened up a new world for me and started me down a path I never expected. I entered college at age 43, with six children. CSI has given me something that has lasted to this day; I have learned so much, and it has kept me going.”
The evening included warm remarks from CSI President Dr. Tomás Morales on behalf of the College, expressing how impressed he was. “I think this is a wonderful affinity program for Nursing Alumni…the turnout tonight has been phenomenal and I look forward to a wonderful evening,” he commented.
Current faculty provided updates on various programs for the attendees. Dr. Arlene Farren, Deputy Chair, Nursing Department spoke for the department, Dr. Margaret Lunney ’73 discussed the Master’s in Nursing, Dr. Eileen Gigliotti represented the Doctor of Science in Nursing, and Dr. Marianne Jeffreys gave an update on the Cultural Competency in Nursing program.
Alumni enjoyed a decadent buffet dinner, great raffle prizes, and a 50/50 drawing, but most importantly the company of their fellow classmates and professors. Since this had been the first nursing reunion at CSI, many guests admitted that they were nervous about attending and wondered if they would run into old friends. However, many of the guests remarked on how happy they were to be there. Beth Blisenback, from the Class of 1976, stated, “I was the last class to graduate before the merge [between Richmond College and Staten Island Community College, CSI’s predecessor schools]. It was so nice to come here tonight; I actually wasn’t sure if I was going to come….but I’ve bumped into so many people here tonight that I’ve touched lives with and didn’t even know went to CSI”
The second part of the evening brought more speeches and memories. First from Marion Hudson ’99 President of Mu Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau. Judith O’Donnell spoke about her memories of the First Associate’s of Applied Science Class of 1967. On behalf of the 25th Anniversary of the First Bachelor of Science in Nursing Lorraine Pellechia-Strusinski ’84 and Coleen Kumar spoke for the first Master’s Class of 2002. She stated, “It is an honor and a privilege to be here tonight with nursing’s finest.”
Dr. Gail Simmons, Dean of Science and Technology, had the privilege of speaking about the Joanne D’Amato ’67 Nursing Scholarship Fund. This scholarship was recently established by the family of Joanne D’Amato and they were present at the dinner that evening.
A wonderful evening was had by all, people enjoyed themselves right up until the very end. The excitement of reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances, and even just the air of camaraderie among the nursing alumni made the event a true success.