Alumni Weekend and Homecoming

SONHS spirit and attendance make milestone anniversary a highlight of Alumni Weekend and Homecoming. Alumni came from as far as California and as close as Coral Gables to celebrate the School of Nursing and Health Studies’ 70th anniversary during the University of Miami Alumni Weekend and Homecoming 2018.

Rona (Reichman) Fagan, BSN ’68, flew in from El Paso, Texas, hoping to reconnect with former SONHS classmates for their 50th reunion. “There were only about 20 of us in that graduating class,” recalled Fagan, who works as a faculty associate in orthopedics at Texas Tech University. Though she didn’t find her Class of 1968 peers, Fagan still had a great time mingling with SONHS alumni from other decades and current students during the school’s 70th Anniversary party on Friday, followed by the annual Homecoming Parade and other activities.

“We have a wonderful group of volunteers who lead our alumni association,” said Dean Cindy L. Munro. “These annual traditions are emblematic of their dedication to the University of Miami, to our school, and to our mission of nursing and health studies education, which is producing tremendously talented professionals for the future of health care.”

The weekend kicked off Thursday evening with the annual Alumnus of Distinction Award Ceremony, sponsored by VITAS Healthcare. This year’s honoree, Rick García, PhD, BSN ’95, RN, CCM, FAAOHN, is director of nursing education for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in Washington, D.C., where he facilitates the national dialogue on innovation in the education policy space.

“Rick García is a motivator and an inspirational person,” said Beverly Fray, BSN ’02, MSN ’06, president-elect of the SONHS Alumni Association, who emceed the event. Marecia S. Bell, a student in the SONHS MSN-DNP program, introduced García as an innovator and stimulator for the profession.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be the recipient of the 2018 Alumnus of Distinction Award,” said García to an audience filled with friends, family, colleagues, and mentors. “As you know the School of Nursing and Health Studies is celebrating its 70th Anniversary, and I’m fortunate to be celebrating my 25th year as a nurse.” In all that time, García added, he has never once regretted going into nursing, a field he was first encouraged to pursue by a beloved Miami Senior High School teacher. “I am passionate about the nursing discipline. I am fortunate to call you my colleagues and peers.”

The 70th anniversary festivities continued Friday afternoon, as students, alumni, faculty, and staff enjoyed delicious food and desserts and got moving to the rhythms of the Frost School of Music band Conjunto Huracán. Keeping the momentum going into the evening, the SONHS Alumni Association led a long procession across campus to the starting line of the annual UM Homecoming Parade. Dean Cindy L. Munro had set the bar high—challenging the school to get 70 marchers in honor of the school’s first 70 years.

The SONHS handily topped that goal, fielding 85 marchers in the parade, including García, Fagan, and newly tapped Iron Arrow Honor Society member Brittny Ellis, a senior nursing student and UM track athlete. Spirited scores of alumni, faculty, staff, students, friends, and family rocked the parade route, sporting bright orange 70th anniversary t-shirts and shiny replica UM turnover chains provided by the Alumni Association. They flanked the gray pickup truck driven by Brett Munro, the dean’s husband, as Dean Munro waved and smiled through the truck’s open sunroof. Chants of the Bee-Gees hit “Stayin’ Alive” and “We will, we will, save you!” (to the tune of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”) filled the air. At one point, even the Miami Maniac jumped on the SONHS bandwagon, literally, dancing atop the parked pickup.

“There is so much to celebrate and so much ahead,” beamed Dean Munro. “Thank you to our alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends for your unconditional support throughout the years.”