A few tears. A toast. And a tribute from Thomas Jefferson himself.

After weeks of tumult and the exhausting near-constant change wrought by coronavirus and COVID-19, UVA School of Nursing's BSN Class of 2020 virtually presented their Distinguished Majors projects, gathered on Zoom to collectively watch a video montage of four years of academic and clinical accomplishments, celebrated some student awards, and raised a glass to one another in a toast to the near-end of a remarkable semester.

"Friendship is precious not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life. And thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine."

Theresa Carroll, "TC", senior assistant dean of students at UVA Nursing, quoting UVA founder Thomas Jefferson

"Friendship is precious," said Theresa Carroll, senior assistant dean of students at UVA Nursing, quoting UVA founder Thomas Jefferson, "not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life. And thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine."

Added Carroll, glass raised and voice cracking, to the more than 75 undergraduate nursing students who'd crowded into the Zoom meeting, "so I say to you, the class of 2020, to more sunshine than shade, knowing that whichever, we will always be here for each other. Here's to the class of 2020! We love you."

Earlier in the afternoon, 13 undergraduates presented their Distinguished Majors projects to a hefty roster of fellow Zoom attendees among the faculty, staff, and clinical members of UVA Health, many of whom had mentored them. Distinguished Majors are high-performing undergraduate students who, over the course of a year, are invited to conduct original research projects of their own choosing with mentor faculty and clinicians. The day of presentations was organized by professors Kim Acquaviva, the Betty Norman Norris Professor of Nursing, and Bethany Coyne, BSN program director.

2020 Distinguished Majors

  • Madeline King - "Assessment of Completion Success for Adolescent Osteosarcoma Clinical Trials" - mentored by prof. Jessica Keim-Malpass
  • Ceileigh Holsteen, a Jefferson Scholar - "Enriched Communication: Continuous Predictive Analytic Monitoring in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit" - mentored by prof. Jessica Keim-Malpass
  • Lance Hardcastle, a Jefferson Scholar - "Nurse Perception of Alarm Fatigue" - mentored by prof. Amy Boitnott
  • Alexus McBride - "Nurse Perceptions of Patients Resulting from Case Histories" - mentored by prof. Amy Boitnott
  • Ann-Marie Coleman - "Perspectives on Mental Health: Faith Community Leaders in Southwest Virginia" - mentored by prof. Anita Thompson-Heisterman
  • Coryn Mayer - "Exploring Existential Distress in Palliative Care and Implications for Psilocybin-assisted Therapy" - mentored by prof. Virginia LeBaron
  • Julia Whitehead - "Interprofessional Collaboration from the Perspective of the Health Care Consumer" - mentored by prof. Beth Quatrara
  • Tyler Gaedecke - "Factors in Developing a Healthcare Profession of Choice: Nursing and Medical Students' Path to their Program" - mentored by prof. Susan Kools
  • Shamara Jordan - "Care Beyond Physiological Needs: Community Health Workers Addressing Psychosocial and Spiritual Needs of Palliative Care Patients in Songkhla Province, Thailand" - mentored by prof. Cathy Campbell
  • Desiree Dixon - "Male Hormonal Contraception: A Study on Attitudes and Perceptions" - mentored by prof. Jennifer Kastello
  • Reanna Panagides - "Impact of the 'Someone You Love' Documentary on Knowledge Gained and Attitudes Towards the HPV Vaccine in Virginia" - mentored by prof. Emma Mitchell
  • Meg Bradshaw - "Understanding Caregiver Barriers to Adherence in Pediatric Dialysis Patients: An Analysis of YouTube Videos" - mentored by prof. Bethany Coyne
  • Giovanna Potenza - "Primary Care Provider Attitudes toward and Perceptions of Annual Cognitive Screening in Older Adult Patients" - mentored by prof. Meghan Mattos 

Award Winners

Five undergraduate students were also recognized with awards from faculty and their peers.

Reanna Panagides

Reanna Panagides, BSN class of 2020 Reanna Panagides, winner of the Global Health Visionary Award

This award is given annually to a student with an extraordinary commitment to global health through leadership and commitment to a sustainable research or service project. Panagides' work focuses on a peer-educator intervention to promote the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women in Roatan, Honduras, a project she's working on with prof. Emma Mitchell and with the support of a Center for Global Health grant. Panagides is also founder of the student group Perennials for Patients, a Distinguished Major, a beekeeper and gardener at Morven Farms, and is currently working as a PCT caring for COVID-19 patients at UVA Health. She begins work later this summer in the Medical ICU at UVA Health.

Tyler Gaedecke

Tyler Gaedecke BSN class of 2020 Tyler Gaedecke, winner of the Z Society Edgar Shannon Award for Academic Excellence

Nominees for this annual award are fourth-year students who have "incredible academic success and passionate extracurricular involvements." Gaedecke has served as a peer health educator, as a member of UVA's resedential life staff, and been a valuable part of a host of School and University committees, including the group that advises on billing practices at UVA Health. A member of Sigma's Beta Kappa chapter, UVA Nursing's nearly 50-year-old honor society, and inducted into UVA's Raven Society, he earned the undergraudate history award in 2018, is a Distinguished Major, and is first author on an evidence-based practice poster publication. Gaedecke, who begins work in the pediatric ICU at VCU Medical Center later this summer, is also founder and president of the qRN, the only LGBTQ+ advocacy and ally-ship group in the nursing school. In his final year at UVA, he was among those students chosen to live on the Lawn.

Ceileigh Holsteen

Ceileigh Holsteen BSN class of 2020 Ceileigh Holsteen, winner of the Anne Pollok Hemmings Clinical Excellence Award Fund

Holsteen, also chosen from more than 2,000 applicants to be a Jefferson Scholar, earned the Hemmings award in honor of her exemplery performance across all clinical settings during her time as a nursing student. Nominated by her academic and clinical faculty mentors, Holsteen's nominators say they "believe [she] will rise to the challenge of caring for the most complicated patients, [demonstrating] true compassion to families in distress, and [providing] leadership to [her] fellow nurses." Holsteen begins work as a critical care nurse at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, TX, later this summer.

Nina Zorzi

Nina Zorzi, BSN class of 2020 Nina Zorzi (left, with Rosemary Ix (BSN `21) in the Martha Jefferson labor and delivery unit in 2019) named the "top student contributor to the School of Nursing" for 2020

For the past four years, Zorzi served as class president of the Nursing Student Council, and for the last year, with Panagides, has served as co-president of the student group Perennials for Patients. Zorzi also served on the Nursing Students Without Borders executive board, as a clinical coach for the women's health class, and remained a top scholar throughout her tenure at UVA, making the Dean's List every semester of her studies. She is one of a set of triplets graduating from UVA in 2020. After graduating from UVA with honors, Zorzi will begin the nurse midwifery program at Vanderbilt University in fall 2020.

Ryan Thomas

Ryan Thomas, BSN class of 2020 Ryan Thomas, named the nursing school's "top contributor to the University" for 2020

Thomas' interests are myriad and wide-ranging. During his time at UVA, he's participated in the Alternative Spring Break projects, which engage UVA students in volunteer projects across the country, served as a Resident Assistant, as part of the Student Nurses Association of Virginia, and as president and a key driver of the reinvigorated MAN (Men Advancing Nursing) Club, for which he regularly organized activities to promote men in nursing and raise awareness of key health issues. While on clinical rotation in Louisa County, Thomas organized a "Stop the Bleed" class for high schoolers and earned accolades from the county's superintendent and board of selectmen. Concurrent with his studies, Thomas volunteered with the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad for the last four years, becoming an advanced paramedic and a key provider for WARS' Sunday night crew. Thomas was chosen to live on the Lawn his final year at UVA and after graduating will work at the surgical trauma ICU at UVA Health.