Adelphi College of Nursing and Public Health – A Tradition of Altruism and Excellence

Shining Stars of Adelphi’s School of Nursing: Lto R: Aneesa Mahmood, Ashley Persaud, Kamila khalikov, Annudeep Kaur: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”

By Amarnauth Samaroo, PhD

New York (June 4, 2024) – Adelphi University held its Pinning Ceremony on May 9: A tradition that celebrates the altruistic nature of nursing. In her welcoming address, Dr. Deborah Hunt, Dean of the College of Nursing and Public Health extolled the virtues of the Nursing profession. Dr. Hunt reminded us of the hallowed tradition of the Pinning Ceremony: A tradition that goes back to Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing who began the practice of recognizing her most outstanding graduates by presenting them with a medal of excellence. In her concluding remarks, Dr. Hunt implored the more than 200 graduates to remain true to the fundamental tenet of their chosen profession – a selfless concern for the well-being of others. That message resonated throughout the evening in addresses by Adelphi Provost, Dr. Christopher Storm, and keynote speaker, Adelphi nursing alumnus and Board of Trustees Secretary, Leonard Achan, President and CEO of LiveOnNY. In an impassioned speech, Mr. Achan shared with us his childhood experience in an auto accident; his hospital stay; and how that undergirded his embrace of this exalted profession.

Krysalli Bloomfield has chosen, perhaps, the most noble of professions – To teach is to touch a life forever

Across the country this spring, in-person Commencement Exercises hold special meaning for the Class of 2024. Most of them were members of their high school Class of 2020, the year of the Covid-19 pandemic when most high schools held virtual Graduations. Queens Gateway to Health Sciences, one of the premier high schools in New York City, was one of only a few that actually held an in-person Graduation. A number of graduates from the Adelphi School of Nursing, Class of 2024, were members of that Queens Gateway Class of 2020. At the time, I was supervisor of the senior class at Queens Gateway and recommended that we hold an in-person, drive-by Graduation. It was an option the NYC Department of Education granted to schools providing police presence was requested and obtained in order to monitor the traffic at the school. Caps and Gowns were ordered and, with patient impatience, the Queens Gateway Class of 2020 anxiously looked forward to their in-person Graduation. But at the midnight hour, I received an email from Principal, Judy Henry, informing me that the Superintendent’s office was unable to secure police presence, and hence the in-person Graduation was off.

Annudeep Kaur and Kamila Khalikov exemplify the virtues of Nursing at Adelphi’s prestigious Pinning Ceremony

As supervisor of the senior class, it was my responsibility to inform the students. Our parents, our students, our school needed something to lift our spirits. It was the height of the pandemic and we were home for the entire second semester of their senior year with death and dying all around us. Looking back, it almost seems surreal. We were in the throes of the pandemic and no one knew what tomorrow might bring. For our seniors, such cherished traditions like the senior trip, the senior prom, and the awards ceremony were already cancelled. Now, their much-anticipated, in-person Graduation would also have to be cancelled, and instead we would hold a virtual Graduation.

How do I break this news to them especially after such a challenging year? Agonizing over it that evening, I could hardly sleep. But hope springs eternal in the human breast, and that indomitable will of the Gateway Spirit ignited my resolve to reach out to the Mayor’s office. I solicited, and was able to secure both police presence and the assurance that the Queens Command would block traffic on the entire avenue from St. John’s University to Queens Gateway from 8 am to 4 pm. Our in-person Graduation was back on. Cheered on by parents, families, friends, teachers, and passersby, the Queens Gateway Class of 2020, proudly bedecked in their Cap and Gown, and carefully observing social distance, sashayed down the sidewalk of Queens Gateway to receive their well-deserved diplomas from Master of Ceremonies, Shree Parsan.

Gateway’s indomitable Student Body President, Aneesa Mahmood, represented the senior class with aplomb

Still, an in-person, drive-by Graduation was no substitute for a traditional Commencement. That is why this year’s college graduation means so much to the high school Classes of 2020. At Adelphi, the former Queens Gateway students were on cloud nine. As an alumnus of Adelphi myself, and now a member of the faculty: I had the unique privilege of participating in both their high school and now, their college graduation. These graduates, Annudeep Kaur, Kamila Khalikov, Ashley Persaud, and Briana Sewdat were students in my calculus and statistics classes during their junior and senior year at Queens Gateway. Also graduating from Adelphi this year was Aneesa Mahmood who was a senior in my calculus class. Queens Gateway will always remember Aneesa, that indomitable Student Body President from the Class of 2019: a President who represented her senior class with aplomb. This year Adelphi held two Commencement Ceremonies, one each for undergraduate and graduate students. At the graduate Commencement Exercises, Queens Gateway was again represented, this time by student Krysalli Bloomfield, Gateway Class of 2017, and now a graduate of Adelphi’s School of Education. I mentored Krysalli during her final two years at Adelphi.

Ashley Persaud and Briana Sewdat walked with a quiet dignity and steely determination to succeed

Jennifer Heralall was another senior from that calculus class along with Annudeep Kaur, Kamila Khalikov, Ashley Persaud, and Briana Sewdat. Unfortunately, because of family commitment, Jennifer was not able to attend Queens Gateway graduation in 2020. This spring Jennifer graduated from City College in Manhattan with a BA in psychology, and come September hopes to matriculate at NYU and begin a master’s program in Mental Health Counseling. Jennifer shared with me that the pandemic and her college experience highlighted the importance of mental health to our world today. This awareness awakened in her a burning desire “to become a psychologist and give back to my community”.

Jennifer Heralall: imbued with an unquenchable thirst “to become a psychologist and give back to my community”

Throughout the last four years, Jennifer, like so many of my students, kept in touch, often expressing appreciation and gratitude for the support, encouragement, and guidance during those crucial high school years. As any educator will tell you, such heartfelt acknowledgement from our students is priceless, but most gratifying to us is knowing that our students have imbibed such timeless qualities as gratitude, appreciation, and humility. But our greatest joy is seeing our students realize their foremost dreams: dreams that were encouraged, nurtured, and allowed to soar beyond their wildest imaginations during those formative high school years. Good luck and best wishes to each and every one of you. God bless you, and God bless these United States of America.