“You don’t work for just anyone, you work for humanity”
Elie Aaraj inspires the new generation of nurses graduating from LAU.
The Nursing Recognition Ceremony, held at LAU’s Byblos campus on June 16, marked the beginning of a new journey for the 2015 class of the Alice Ramez Chagoury School of Nursing. As they accepted the duty imposed upon them by the Nightingale Pledge and committed themselves to a lifetime of helping others, the 22 graduating students took in words of wisdom from those who came before them.
“Love for humanity is the most important lesson I have learned from being nurse,” said Elie Aaraj, guest speaker at the ceremony and one of the greatest leaders of change in Lebanon’s health sector. As the founding president of the Order of Nurses, Aaraj invited the students to become active members of this community, admitting that they were in for a difficult ride. Still, “when you walk against the storm, the first tool is to be united,” he said.
Aaraj is the executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association, a regional NGO that works to decrease the risks associated with substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. Throughout his career, he has served in acute care hospitals and has published five major research studies on HIV, drug use prevention and harm reduction.
This deep background gave him the voice of authority as he addressed the graduates, reminding them that “he who knows himself never condemns anyone,” and exhorting the new nurses to “always be available to answer the call of others.”
The atmosphere was solemn yet cheerful as the students approached the stage one by one to collect their pins, symbols and reminders of their vow to the profession. Nancy Hoffart, founding dean of the School of Nursing, had the privilege of pinning the Class of 2015, or “the four tall guys class,” as she likes to remember it. “May what you have learned here be the wind beneath the wings of your professional career,” said Hoffart as she bid farewell to her students.
A number of graduates were welcomed on stage during the ceremony to collect academic excellency awards. Vera Tavoukjian, who completed her studies with distinction, was awarded the President’s Circle Award in recognition of professional presentation, delivery of patient-centered nursing care and strong academics.
“I have worked hard for this moment,” said Tavoukjian, recalling the past three years. “To finally go out into the real world to practice the profession is intimidating, but we are ready for it.”
Noura Jannoun, also graduating with distinction, was awarded the Shaké Ketefian Award for her strong leadership potential and patient-centered care delivery. “I hope I will be the one giving out an award to a student one day,” said Jannoun, looking up to Elie Aaraj.
Soon she will begin her new job in one of the most demanding environments, the intensive care unit. “There you have fewer patients and can establish a deeper connection with them. That to me is the most important part of the profession,” she shared.
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