Alumna Karen Cox Addresses Graduates

“I feel at home here at Excelsior with all of you and your stories,” Commencement speaker Karen Cox said, addressing more than 400 Excelsior graduates and their friends and family in July. Cox
earned her associate degree in nursing from Excelsior (then Regents College) in 1982 and is president of the American Academy of Nursing.

She relayed her own upbringing in Independence, Missouri, and her journey to become a nurse. She told graduates that receiving their degrees meant they would “learn, grow, and find meaningful ways to contribute and leave the world — whatever your piece of it is — better than you found it.”

“But most importantly, never lose your voice. Say what needs to be said in the name of what is right, just, and fair.” –Karen Cox ’82

Cox shared stories of ordinary people who had a profound impact on the lives of others by “just doing their jobs.” She reminded graduates that they, too, can have an impact on the lives of others; that they each can and will make a difference. “But most importantly, never lose your voice. Say what needs to be said in the name of what is right, just, and fair,” she said.

Cox ended her address by saying to graduates, “So, ladies and gentlemen, give them Hell and ever upward!” Graduates applauded enthusiastically at these rousing words.

Cox is executive vice president and COO of Children’s Mercy–Kansas City, an independent, academic medical center in Missouri. She also serves as assistant dean for Clinical Partnerships at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC), and is the inaugural endowed chair for the V. Fred Burry, MD, and Sandra Hobart Burry Chair in Nursing Advocacy and Leadership to recognize her
local and national advocacy and leadership work. In addition to her degree from Excelsior College, she earned a BS in Nursing from the University of Kansas, and an MS in Nursing and PhD from UMKC. In 2006, she received the Carrie B. Lenburg Award from the Excelsior College Alumni Association. The award recognizes a nurse who demonstrates commitment to nursing education as well as academic and professional accomplishments in the field of nursing.