An image of Carole Gassert and Taylor Livick, winners of the 2020 Alumni Association Awards
They graduated more than 50 years apart, but Taylor Livick and Carole Gassert share a lot, including this year's 2020 Alumni Association Awards.

Nursing alumna Carole GassertCarole A. Gassert, PhD, RN (BSN ’63)

Distinguished Alumni Award: Honoring outstanding contributions to the nursing profession

Nominated for her trailblazing contributions across a career in two distinct specialties—cardiovascular nursing and nursing informatics—Carole Gassert advanced nursing education, clinical practice, and research, improving patient care and health outcomes along the way.

A year after graduating, Gassert became head nurse of the general/cardiovascular surgery unit at UVA Hospital. By 1970, with a master’s degree from the University of Washington, she become UVA’s first cardiovascular clinical nurse specialist the following year.

“At that time, I had never seen anyone practice at her level,” said Denise Geolot Sherer (BSN ’70, ENP CERTI ’75), who nominated Gassert for the award. “She was a highly respected leader who challenged the traditional role boundaries between nurses and doctors, and was an excellent teacher. She had no tolerance for anything but the best care the team could provide and, as a result, many critically-ill patients survived—and thrived.”

Gassert’s dedication to educating cardiovascular surgical patients was seminal. She advised them about what to expect, how to prepare, and what to do after surgery. With a colleague, Gassert developed two brochures to enhance post-surgical patients’ recovery process, documents that health education publisher Pritchett and Hall began printing and distributing in 1976 to hospitals around the nation. Since then, “Moving Right Along After Open Heart Surgery” and “Going for Heart Surgery: What You Need to Know” have been distributed to more than four million patients, a testament to the quality and relevance of these post-surgical guide. 

Gassert earned her doctoral from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1988, and, in 1989, established the nation’s first nursing informatics master’s program there, adding a doctoral program in the specialty in 1991. Between 1988 and 2008, she published more than 20 articles on nursing and health care informatics, writings that further defined and compelled the specialty, which the American Nurses Association identified as a specialty in 1992. 

Gassert taught at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ultimately retiring in 2008 from her position as an associate professor at the University of Utah College of Nursing. A teacher, mentor, clinician, leader, and nurse scientist, Gasser’s impact and legacy remains. 

Taylor Livick, RN (BSN ’17)Nursing alumna Taylor Livick
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital 

Decade Award: Recognizing a recent graduate’s outstanding nursing career

Recently selected as a 2020 Star Nurse in Washington, D.C., Taylor Livick’s peers and patients lauded her nursing skill and professionalism while serving on the COVID-19 frontlines.

“Through her dedicated work serving the community, Taylor provides compassionate care to her patients and families in need,” said Rebecca Wassell (BSN ’17), Livick’s nominator.

But her initial path into nursing was strictly personal. When Livick was 14, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. During treatment, she recalled, “I was introduced to a whole new support system of nurses and doctors who helped me learn, grow and succeed” with her diagnosis.

“I feel truly lucky to have had those people in my life,” added Livick, of Burke, VA, “and for introducing me to the nursing career and sparking that passion for me.”

In nursing school, Livick was drawn to her elderly patients in particular, an affinity that remains and continues to inform her care today.

“Every shift at work, I go by the motto, ‘How would I want a nurse to treat my grandparent?’” said Livick, “and I really try to provide that care each shift I work.”

Recognizing Extraordinary Alumni

Each year, the School of Nursing Alumni Association honors individual alumni for contributions and service to the nursing profession. Wish to nominate an outstanding graduate? Nominations for the 2021 awards may be made by email or online