Rachel Runyan stands on stage at Brenau University's East Campus.
In her hands she holds a speech she prepared. She doesn't even glance at the paper. Instead she speaks from her heart.
"I feel so blessed and honored to have been given this opportunity to take this job and just fly with it. I love what I do every single day and just don't ever have a day ... where I'm just like, ‘I don't want to do this job.' I love it," Runyan said.
Seven nurses, Ann Addison, Heather Hayes, Priscilla Kyle, Hannah Day, Sandra Greniewicki Cheryl Christian and Runyan were honored during the Masters in the Art of Nursing award ceremony Thursday morning at Brenau University.
The nurses were nominated by their peers and selected based on a list of criteria that includes being able to connect with people, improving quality of life and modeling confidence, competence and courage in the delivery of nursing care.
More than 100 nurses, students, and teachers watched and listened to the master nurses who took turns on stage explaining the events that brought them to nursing. For some it was following in family footsteps. For others it was an interest in health care.
But they all agreed that nursing is a passion.
Greniewicki was the first dean of the School of Nursing at Brenau. She was inspired to become a nurse after the birth of her second daughter. She said it was the kindness that one nurse chose to show her that brought her daughter into the world and inspired her to become a nurse.
"Life has a strange and unusual way of opening doors," Greniewicki said.
Among all of the qualities and ideals the nurses spoke of at the ceremony, kindness was the most important.
Hayes reminisced about a conversation she had with her father before becoming a nurse. He told her that more than anything else he wanted her to be kind "because it matters and because it is right."
Those words spoke to 14-year-old Luisa Munoz. She came to the ceremony with her ninth-grade East Hall High School class. She wants to become an oral surgeon and though she hasn't considered a career in nursing, she took their messages to heart.
"Being kind is always key, never give up and have a lot of faith," Luisa said.
Kyle offered some words of advice to the student nurses in the audience. She said that as nurses they become a part of some of the most intimate, vulnerable moments in a person's life.
"Don't be afraid of showing patients that you care," Kyle said.
Kristie Scott is a nursing student at Brenau. She listened to all of the master nurses and called the ceremony a "wonderful learning experience."
A career in nursing can take many forms. Nursing can take a person from the operating room, to the classroom to the board room.
"Whether you're right at the bedside or behind the scenes, just know that what you're doing does help the patient," Day said.