CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 13
G R A D U AT I O N
C O N V O C AT I O N 2 0 2 0
Major companies pulled advertising from "The View" and
channeled the dollars instead to nursing scholarships.
"I still have nurses come up to me and say that they were
going to retire, or that they wanted to quit, and that whole
scenario inspired them to keep going. They remember why
they did this in the first place," said Johnson, who changed
her course and has continued to advocate for nurses as a
national speaker (Nurse Kelley) and TV host in California.
A LIFE-CHANGING MONOLOGUE
While fellow contestants danced and sang for the talent
section of the pageant, Johnson chose to share a transformational story about an Alzheimer's patient she cared for
in the hospital.
She recalled how she held Joe's hand when he awoke with
night terrors, ending in many long talks. She described how
she tried to boost his spirits when he broke down one day,
telling him he was not defined by his disease.
C O M M E M O R AT I V E E D I T I O N
'I HAVE A JOB TO DO'
Being an advocate for the nation's "most honorable," but desperately
needed profession, is rewarding, Johnson said.
"I tell people that we want and need more nurses in this profession. That's
my goal," she said, recalling one memorable call from a mother after the
Miss America pageant who said Johnson's monologue convinced her
daughter to forgo pageantry and become a nurse.
"That just makes it all worth it," she said. "Nursing is really hard, and we
have to celebrate those victories that remind us why we do this in the first
place. That's why for me, I can't return to the bedside right now, because
I have a job to do. And I don't intend on stopping."
Her advice for all of the Master of Science in Nursing and CU Nursing colleagues graduating with her during this delayed Spring Commencement:
Always remember Joe's words, Johnson said.
"Remember that you are not just anything. We are vital. We are absolutely
essential to safe and effective patient care. Demand the respect that you
deserve for the role that you play in healthcare. You are a nurse."
Then Joe turned the table. He tearfully told Johnson -
who often replied to his requests with "No, Joe, I can't.
I'm just a nurse" - that she changed his life, and that
she was not just a nurse. She was his nurse, and she had
changed his life because she had cared about him.
SHARING HER MESSAGE WITH CU AND BEYOND
Despite the unexpected fame, Johnson kept her sights on
advancing her nursing skills, applying to CU Nursing's
Family Nurse Practitioner program. "I actually cried
when I got my acceptance email," Johnson said, noting
that she was in a hotel and woke her parents up in the
room next door to celebrate.
"CU is a top nursing school, and it's important for me
to get the best education possible," said Johnson, who
intends to continue her education and earn a doctorate,
thanks, in part, to Ellen DeGeneres. "I hope one day she
finds out that (her gift) did actually go to graduate school."
Johnson said she knew that, with living in California now
and not being a bedside nurse, her CU path wasn't going
to be easy.
"I'm so thankful for everything they've done for me. I'm
not a traditional student. They have not only been very
flexible, but I've worked really closely with a lot of the
faculty, especially Dr. (Krista) Estes, DNP, FNP, to be able
to make my clinical experiences work and to be able to pass
my coursework. I wouldn't have been able to have such
success without them."
Kelley Johnson with Ellen DeGeneres whom she
credits with helping to fund her master's degree.
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - Cover1
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 2
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 3
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 4
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 5
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CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 7
CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - 8
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CU Nursing - Commencement Spring 2020 - Cover4