Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Seventy-four pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students and 34 registered nurses who earned a BSN through the RN-BSN program will walk across the Hancher Auditorium stage during the College of Nursing Fall Commencement Ceremony on Dec. 17.

Student commencement speakers are Olivia Harris of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Jonathan Szczesny of Iron Ridge, Wisconsin. Distinguished Alumni Award winner Diane Von Ah, Phd, RN, FAAN (87BSN, 96MSN) will give the keynote address, and University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson will present the charge to the graduates and confer degrees.

The ceremony begins at 9 a.m. and will be livestreamed here.

About the speakers:

Olivia Harris

Olivia Harris is a 2018 graduate of Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Olivia attended Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana for her pre-nursing coursework, and transferred to the University of Iowa in 2020. While at Iowa she has received multiple scholarships and made the President’s List for three semesters. Last year she served as treasurer of the Student Nurses Association and participated in the Young Nurse Leader Program, which provided her a mentorship opportunity with a nurse manager in the pediatric intensive care unit. Olivia has also volunteered with the College of Nursing for new student orientation, N95 fit testing, and vaccine clinics.

Olivia currently works as a nursing assistant at Stead Family Children’s Hospital on Pediatric Cardiology, Pulmonology, and General Pediatrics and on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Her future plans include working on the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Stead Family Children’s Hospital, obtaining her PhD, and teaching undergraduate nursing classes.  

Jonathan Szczesny

A 2016 graduate of Wisconsin Virtual Learning in Fredonia, Wisconsin, Jonathan Szczesny earned his Associate of Applied Science in Nursing with honors from Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, in 2019. He currently works in the Neuro, Trauma, Surgical ICU at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center in Neenah, Wisconsin. Jonathan was chosen for this honor by his classmates in the RN-BSN program.   

Throughout his education, Jonathan has been a leader. In high school he was salutatorian of his graduating class, and in college he received the 2018 Campus Impact award and the 2019 Leadership and Service award. In 2017 he served as chapter secretary of the Student Nurses Association before a two-year stint as their president. He also served a year as secretary of his campus student senate and another as president. Additionally, he was the campus representative to the district student government for two years.  

Jonathan is also a leader in the workplace, serving on multiple unit councils and committees. He has been a patient safety advocate, an ICU trauma champion, and an influenza vaccination champion. Jonathan is professionally certified as both a critical care and trauma nurse. In the future he plans to pursue graduate education and become a nurse anesthetist.    

Dr. Diane Von Ah

Diane Von Ah, PhD, RN, FAAN is the distinguished professor of cancer research at The Ohio State University College of Nursing and co-leads the Cancer Survivorship Program at The OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center and the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

Dr. Von Ah began her nursing career in 1987, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Iowa College of Nursing. She returned to the college in 1996 to earn her Master of Science in Nursing in Nursing Administration and went on to receive her PhD from the University of Alabama, Birmingham. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Indiana University School of Nursing and was selected for the inaugural cohort of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar Program in 2008.

Dr. Von Ah joined the faculty at Indiana University in 2008 and became an academic leader within the School of Nursing, serving as chair of the Department of Community and Health Systems for four years before becoming associate dean of academic operations in 2019. In 2021, she transitioned to The Ohio State University College of Nursing where she is leading and mentoring interdisciplinary teams to advance the science in cancer survivorship.

Dr. Von Ah’s program of research has focused on improving the lives of cancer survivors by addressing late and long-term effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Specifically, she has worked to address cancer and cancer-related treatment on cognitive impairment and its impact on work outcomes, functional limitations, frailty, and quality of life of cancer survivors.

Published nationally and internationally, Dr. Von Ah currently serves as an associate editor of the journal Cancer Medicine and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, Research in Nursing and Health and Clinical Nursing Research. She was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2014.