Emily Adair
The La Grande Observer

Class of 2020

Thirty students comprise the OHSU School of Nursing’s class of 2020. Here are their names, listed by town.


Quincy Pendergrass

Baker City

Brieanne Bain; Kimberly Nelson


Kelsi Reyes


Marissa Modey


Jennifer Wilson


Ashley Foster


Jessica Dixon


Jacey Teeter

La Grande

Jessica Bertalotto; Vanessa Davie; Kaylie Thompson; Christina Thurston


Macey Frei


Veronica Popchock


Catherine Garbarino

Missoula, Montana

Cori Briscoe


Abigail Long


Leah Lopez; Edgardo Peteros

Prairie City

Amy Black


Tyler Hulick


Christiana Burt


Sarah Hill


Rodolfo Armenta-Mendoza; Karla Bedolla-Garcia


Alexis Caldwell

Walla Walla, Washington

Jordan Kofler


Jacqueline Russell

Walnut, California

Justin Heikkila

Source: Oregon Health and Science University

Thirty students exchanged their green scrubs for white coats Tuesday morning to celebrate their commitment to Oregon Health and Science University’s School of Nursing as well as their commitment to humanism and excellence.

“What we have determined to be the focus of the White Coat Ceremony is not the white coat itself but the value behind it,” said Dr. Susan Bakewell-Sachs, dean of the school of nursing.

The White Coat Ceremony is an annual tradition used to welcome students into the nursing program, which is situated on the campus of Eastern Oregon University.

Dr. Carla Hagen, the associate dean of nursing on the La Grande campus, said after the ceremony that the incoming class was larger than previous years.

“We were finally able to make the jump up to 30 this year,” Hagen said.

She said there were about 90 qualified applicants for the program, of which 60 were interviewed.

Hagen said the program must be selective because it lacks the physical space for a much larger class. OHSU also wants to ensure the students get the most out of their clinical hours.

The program sends students to work in hospitals in the region, including Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande, Saint Alphonsus in Baker City and Ontario and St. Anthony in Pendleton. Nursing students also provide community care to organizations such as Community Connection of Northeast Oregon. The agency assists seniors, children and people with disabilities through advocacy and direct programs.

“We have found from talking to our partners in the region that access to food is a real challenge,” Hagen said. “Our students will actually go volunteer with the Kids Club and the food banks.”

As Cheryl Cosgrove, a registered nurse at Grande Ronde Hospital, mentioned during her keynote speech, the students’ time at OHSU is only the beginning of a “great adventure.”

Cosgrove told the story of how she got into caregiving as the second oldest of seven children, helping with feeding and diaper changing. She said her mother, who was a nurse, taught her to value the safety and health of all people.

Cosgrove said she went on to learn something new practically every day as she worked her way up into leadership roles. She encouraged the OHSU students to listen and learn throughout their careers, not just while taking classes.

“Get involved, become our future nursing advocates and leaders, learn everyday and laugh often,” she concluded.

Tom Insko, president of EOU, emphasized the importance of being a nurse.

“Everything matters in nursing, and when I say everything, I mean everything,” Insko said. “One of the challenges you have is you never get to have a bad day.”

Insko said that the “tremendous impact” nurses have on their patients can turn negative if the nurse is not on his or her “A-game.”

Although that’s a daunting thought, Insko said it helps to live “intentionally.” Insko said one of the things he does as a leader is decide to recite a handful of core values every morning when he wakes up. He implored the nursing students to “intentionally engage with this commitment you’re making.”

Bakewell-Sachs, who traveled from Portland to participate in the campus celebration, noted the importance of applying compassion and empathy in health care.

She advised the students to take advantage of wisdom they can glean from faculty and clinical professionals. Bakewell-Sachs concluded by wishing the class well.

“I hope your pursuit of humanism and excellence is wonderful,” she said. “It will not be every hour but will be in the big picture.”

After the speeches, each student was recognized with a white coat, lanyard and pin embedded with the words “Humanism” and “Excellence.”

Finally, incoming students, upperclassmen and faculty joined together in reading the OHSU School of Nursing White Coat Ceremony oath. In reciting the oath, the students vow to accept the duties of the nursing profession, including considering the welfare of all people and abiding by legal and ethical requirements.