by Namukolo Dolica Wilkinson, MSN, RN

Wow! This is a wonderful view. Even better than I imagined!

Good Afternoon, family, friends, faculty, honored guests. To my peers, welcome to our Research College of Nursing Class of 2018 Master of Nursing Ceremony! While I go by my nickname Kolo, I want to take a moment and reintroduce myself. I am Namukolo Dolica Wilkinson, MSN, RN. It feels so good to say that! Thank you for allowing me to represent and address you briefly…and I mean just about as brief as your last discussion posting was.

When I found out I had the honor to address you, I thought could lace this with powerful quotes from famous scholars, but I decided instead that I would speak from my heart. So here it goes!

Many of us have not met in person until yesterday or today. We got to know some of each other’s faces very well when our computers screens would freeze in our online conferences. Despite us being miles apart, I think we all shared common life experiences.

I want to tell you a little about my background. I am a first-generation daughter of an immigrant mom. She was from Zambia in southern Africa. She attended Kansas State University on a Fulbright scholarship and completed a master’s degree. She had 3 children and later separated from my father, who returned to Zambia. The majority of my life, I was raised by my single mother. She was not a citizen, she had no family in the states and had to find a way to provide for her 3 young children.

She made tremendous scarifies to ensure a better future for her children. When I reflect on what she did for me, I think about the sacrifices that we made during this program. Working long hours and coming home to read evidence-based articles, writing APA formatted papers, finding time in our work day to post a discussion, maybe a response to a peer, telling family members or friends ‘No” because you had live conference on Wednesday or Thursday. But our hard work, our short-term sacrifice, has yielded a huge award! We are graduates!

Another thing is, the world didn’t stop for us to complete this significant accomplishment, our master’s in nursing. I know that like me, many of you had experiences during the past few years that made you reevaluate whether you had made the right decision to further your education.

"If it were not for one motivating person, an everyday Hero, championing and reminding you of your purpose, you may not have made it here to participate in this ceremony today."

If it were not for one motivating person, an everyday Hero, championing and reminding you of your purpose, you may not have made it here to participate in this ceremony today. I have had many Hero’s along the way. My Amazing husband Fred, wonderful kids Clayton and Harper, loyal sister and brother, Sabi and Dia, many great friends and family.

Who comes to mind for you graduates? Are some of them here celebrating with you today?

On behalf of this graduate class, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank all of you who supported us and connected us to our purpose throughout this journey.

We love you, we thank you!  

My mother was my rock. Shortly after I received my acceptance letter, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I called my mother and said “Mom, now I’m pregnant and in grad school. I don’t think I can do this” My mother said “Of course you can. There really isn’t much you can’t do Kolo, You are strong. Pray and keep your purpose in your heart and mind. You can do this and I’m so proud of you.” So, I kept going. My daughter, was born prematurely, 10 weeks early and spent 2 months in the NICU. A month after we brought our beautiful girl home, my mother, the most important woman in the world to me, passed away. Distraught, I called Jan Andrews, my academic advisor and instructor. I said, “Jan, now I’ve lost my mom and I have a preemie at home, I don’t think I can do this.” Jan said “Of course you can! You’ve come too far to stop now. You will not quit and I won’t let you” But it’s what she said next that made all the difference “Remember your purpose. Your mom and family will be so proud of you.”

Namukolo Dolica Wilkinson, MSN, RN

"As nurse executives, we not only have the power to make a difference in healthcare, we are leaders positioned to make difference in the lives of others."

It was in this moment that my path became clearer…more focused. As nurse executives, we not only have the power to make a difference in healthcare, we are leaders positioned to make difference in the lives of others. We get to remind others of their missions, values. Their purpose. And mom, I know that you are watching, today, I dedicate this accomplishment to you.

Life is unpredictable…and through it all whether we lost loved ones, welcomed new life into the world. We lost jobs, got promotions. Sent kids to elementary or high school and or may sent them off to college, watched kids get married, moved to new cities, bought houses, built houses, welcomed loved one’s home from deployment. Despite all the obstacles and successes, you persevered. You did not lose sight of your purpose.

Once that seed was planted, and you made the decision that would change your life, your career forever. Your success is a consequence of your choices and purpose! You did this! And now, because of your accomplishment today and forever, you have the opportunity to be the hero in someone else’s life.

"Live the life you’ve imagined, be a hero, and above all else, live a purpose filled life!"

You have completed your masters, but journey isn’t over yet! Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined, be a hero, and above all else, live a purpose filled life!

Congratulations Graduate Class of 2018!