UArizona Nursing Builds Better Futures One Brick at a Time

Nov. 6, 2019

Old Main, the stately administration building in the center of campus, has been the heart and soul of the University since its doors first opened in 1891. The oldest surviving educational structures in the western United States, Old Main means many things to many people – but to Arizona Nursing, a tiny piece of it has recently come to symbolize the College’s quest to Build Better Futures.

When Connie Miller, DNP, RNC-OB, CNE, CCCE, chair, General Nursing and Health Education Division (GNHE), came into possession of an Old Main brick that was recovered from an interior wall that was removed during a 1977 remodeling, she decided to use the relic as an award for faculty excellence. During last year’s GNHE faculty retreat, Dr. Miller presented the first brick award to Clinical Assistant Professor Deborah Gorombei, RN, DNP, CFRN, LNCC. Since then, the brick has passed to Clinical Instructor Vladimir Semin, FNP, MS, CCRN, Senior Lecturer Jocelyn Nelms and Clinical Assistant Professor Sharon Hitchcock, DNP, RN-C.

“To me, this brick symbolizes our history of excellence at the UArizona and at the CON,” says Dr. Miller.  “Faculty in the GNHE Division are making exceptional contributions in so many ways so this is just one small effort to publicly honor those who epitomize excellence in teaching, service, scholarship, or other contributions towards fulfilling our mission at the College, University, or the nursing profession as a whole.”

"The UArizona GNHE Old Main 'Building Brighter Futures in the College of Nursing’ Brick Award was a tremendous surprise and much appreciated.  This has special meaning since it was also the inaugural award.  Dr. Miller explained how this brick represents the history of excellence in education at the University of Arizona and how she would like us to use this brick to acknowledge outstanding members of the CON who are ‘Building Brighter Futures in the Collage of Nursing.'

The brick award was truly an honor.  Coordinator work is largely behind the scenes and it was nice to hear of the appreciation for leadership, mentorship, teamwork and growth produced at the Phoenix site as well as division wide accomplishments such as ExamSoft.  However, this award symbolizes more than an individual award.  No site could have accomplished what we have accomplished from the help of one person.   To me, this brick represents the teamwork of all who helped launch and grow the Phoenix site with the many opportunities and successes including clinical and classroom placement and all of the moving parts that are too numerous to explain."

Deb Gorombei, DNP, RN, CFRN, LNCC, Clinical Assistant Professor

"I certainly was flattered and humbled with receiving this award.  As my professional colleagues know, I am not one to place a great deal of emphasis on such things.  I respect and value what the “Old Main Brick Award” symbolizes.  I believe it is important to acknowledge the historical significance and legacy of the University of Arizona.  It is also important to acknowledge key individuals who came before us and the contributions they made to UArizona.  Universities are complex and multifaceted in addition to being a living and breathing organism in flux, constant evolvement, and change.  For me, the brick and other assorted artifacts represent the humble beginnings of the University of Arizona from a historical perspective.  They also represent the core values and principles upon which the University of Arizona was founded.  It is important not to lose sight of this and to keep things in perspective."      

Vlad Semin, FNP, MS, CCRN, Instructor, Phoenix MEPN Program

"Dr. Deborah Gorombei and Vladimir Semin passed on the award to me. Here is an excerpt from the presentation of the award: “Deb and I wanted to take the time and publicly thank Ms. Jocelyn for her immense contribution and leadership to the MEPN program in Phoenix.  She has been the sound voice of reason, faculty leader, resource, and mentor.  She has also gone above and beyond with her flexibility and assistance to the MEPN cause with unwavering devotion and commitment. The “Old Main” historic brick, is presented to Ms. Jocelyn Nelms, which symbolizes UArizona excellence."

Jocelyn Nelms, MS/Ned, RN, Senior Lecturer

"Receiving the Old Main Brick Award this August 2019 was, to say the least, a complete and total surprise.  After recovering from the surprise (a hot flash to be exact!), it became a welcomed and deeply appreciated “vote of confidence” after a couple of busy, and at times, stressful semesters.  Much of what we all do is quiet and “behind the scenes” as we try to do what’s best for our students, courses, and nursing programs.  This award was like a gentle pat on the shoulder, that said “nice job!”  I am honored to get to hand it off to the next deserving colleague!"

Sharon Hitchcock, DNP, RN-C, Clinical Assistant Professor

"I was surprised, honored and very excited when receiving the Old Main Brick Award. Dr. Hitchcock acknowledged my efforts for teamwork as well as going above and beyond for advocating for student success.  To me, this brick is truly a symbol of building brighter futures. I am privileged to be a faculty team member at The University of Arizona as I get to share my passion with students every day. I want to share an excerpt from a student that I received ironically the same day as this award: “Thank you so much for being an advocate for our learning! You were a great help with our transition into the hospital setting. Thank you for being so patient and so kind. You have helped me grow so much during Pediatrics.” 

Beverly Bias, MS, RNC-NIC, Lecturer