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School of Nursing Honors Distinguished Alumni at 50th Anniversary Gala

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Son 50 gala main
From left: Interim Dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine William Wertheim, Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis, School of Nursing Dean Annette Wysocki, and Executive Vice President of Health Sciences and CEO of Stony Brook University Medicine Hal Paz.

The Stony Brook University School of Nursing celebrated its 50th Anniversary Gala on May 5 at Flowerfield in St. James, and the celebration included the school honoring five of its most distinguished alumni.

President Maurie McInnis joined Interim Dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine William Wertheim, School of Nursing Dean Annette Wysocki, and Executive Vice President of Health Sciences and CEO of Stony Brook University Medicine Hal Paz — along with many other university and local government leaders — in honoring the school and recognizing its long history of innovation in online nursing education, while celebrating 50 years of excellence in education, research, practice and community engagement.

“As Stony Brook University and higher education institutions across the world focus on building an equitable environment, we can look to the School of Nursing for its ability to be a truly world-class program that holds accessibility as its central tenant,” President McInnis said as she addressed the gathering. “Our School of Nursing alumni are some 11,000-plus strong, and come from all 50 states and 23 different countries. You all have strengthened the School of Nursing for the past 50 years, and I am sure you have laid the solid groundwork to extend the streak to 50 more.”

The celebration also paid tribute to these five alumni:

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Annette Wysocki (left) and Joan Furey ’72, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award

Joan Furey ’72 – Outstanding Alumnus – Lifetime Achievement
Joan Furey is a United States Army Nurse Veteran who served in Vietnam and received a Bronze Star serving as a second Lieutenant. After leaving the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, she had a 30-year career in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) where she and other colleagues started programs to meet the needs of women veterans suffering from PTSD. Her tireless and unrelenting efforts to improve the healthcare of women veterans experiencing PTSD followed a path that through persistence, drive and personal experience began with the development of programs working in the VA hospital system, and eventually testimony before members of the U.S. Congress.

Maria Colandrea ’06, ’14 – Distinguished Alumnus – Clinical Practice
Maria Colandrea serves on the National Veterans Health Administration/Office of Nursing Service Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Council where she represents 8,471 APRNs at the national level and has assisted in the development of APRN legislation and national policies.

Beverly Dean MS ’96, ’01 – Distinguished Alumnus – Community Service Leadership
Beverly Dean is a nurse practitioner and community activist and champions equity in multicultural affairs and increased access to quality healthcare, education and affordable housing. She was the first African American woman to serve as fire commissioner of Gordon Heights in 1987. She is an active member of the NAACP and Women in the NAACP. She currently serves her community as president of the Brookhaven Rosa Parks Democratic Association.

Margaret “Peg” O’Donnell ’96, ’16 – Distinguished Alumnus – Advocacy
Peg O’Donnell has been active in the national Nurse Practitioner Association (NPA), the NPA of Long Island and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners to advocate for the removal of mandatory written collaborative practice agreements in New York State. She developed the first primary care practice fellowship for nurse practitioners at Northwell Health, developed the first adult immunization program at South Nassau, and successfully linked the system EMR to the NYS immunization registry.

Son 50 flowersConnor O’Sullivan ’20 – Outstanding Recent Graduate
Connor O’Sullivan served as an inspiring president of the Stony Brook Student Nurse Association, elevating and leading the organization to being recognized with a National Stellar Award from the National Student Nurse Association for outstanding accomplishments in service to the community. He has completed 17 medical missions to various foreign countries through Blanca’s House as an active volunteer and mission coordinator. He will embark on his 18th mission to Guayaquil, Ecuador, this spring.

The School of Nursing was one of the first schools to open on the Health Science Center campus in 1970 and graduated its first 16 graduates in 1971, before the opening of Stony Brook University Hospital. Graduates of the School of Nursing were the first to complete any professional degree program on the Health Science Campus and graduate from Stony Brook University. Today, the School of Nursing has more than 11,000 graduates in all 50 states and in 23 countries across the globe.

The Stony Brook University School of Nursing offers bachelor’s (BS), master’s (MS), master’s certificate, doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) and doctoral degrees (PhD) in nursing. It is currently ranked #8 by U.S. News and World Report for the Best Online Master’s in Nursing Program and #13 for the Best Online Master’s in Leadership, and ranked #27 for Midwifery. This is the third year in a row that the school has ranked in the top ten where it has been an innovator in online nursing education since 1995.


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