Conemaugh School of Nursing Graduates 39 Student Nurses

July 1, 2021

Last night, the Conemaugh School of Nursing graduated 39 students at a commencement ceremony held at 1st Summit Arena. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the program, which has graduated more than 4,165 student nurses since its founding. Among the 39 graduates, two dozen have committed to stay at the Conemaugh Health System in various roles throughout the region.

“I am so proud of the way our graduate nurses persevered throughout this difficult time,” said Bonnie Mazurak-Riga, DNP, MBA, RN, Director of Conemaugh School of Nursing and Allied Health Programs. “In addition to their strong academic and skills-based training, they were an integral part of our response to COVID-19 and our vaccination clinics in the community. They are our nation’s next generation of healthcare superheroes, and we are so fortunate that they have responded to the calling at this critical time in our history.”

At commencement, several students were recognized for their academic performance, leadership ability, community service, and commitment to patient care.


The Meyer & Sally Bloom Class Valedictorian Award was presented to Alexis Brown, an Ebensburg native, who graduated with a 3.57 grade point average. Brown will continue her nursing career at Wellspan Ephrata Community Hospital.


Additionally, the Elaine E. Behe & William L. Hughes Class Salutatorian Award was presented to Brittany Brydon. Brydon is a native of Salix and earned a 3.55 grade point average. She will continue her career in nursing at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in critical care.

Additional awards and recognitions provided through or made possible by the 1889 Foundation included:


• The Karen Walker Stringent, RN, Communication & Health Teaching Award was presented to Ruth Hight. The award recognizes a student who consistently models effective communication and teaching behaviors which maintain the sensitivity, value, and respect of others. Hight plans to relocate to North Carolina to practice nursing.


• The Evelyn Frye, RN/Boyd Lingenfelter Humanitarian Award was presented to Emmalee Dull. This award recognizes a student who consistently models compassion, competence, and humanitarian care. A Johnstown native, Dull will continue her career at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in palliative care.

• The Sally Jordan Nursing Leadership & Management Award was also presented to Alexis Brown. This award honors a student who consistently models personal and professional behaviors that lend to effective leadership and management in nursing.


• The Margaret Nestor, RN, Student Services Award was presented to Olivia Letzo. The award recognizes a student who demonstrates outstanding contributions to the growth and welfare of the school, student body, and community. Letzo will join her mother, Carmen, as a nurse in critical care at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center.

• The Conemaugh School of Nursing Outstanding Student Nurse Award was also presented to Brittany Brydon. This award recognizes a student who consistently models the professional excellence of the Conemaugh nurse.

• The Conemaugh School of Nursing Spirit of the Pink Cross Award was also presented to Olivia Letzo. The recognition honors a student who consistently models personal and professional behaviors that exemplify the quality professional nurse who will wear the pink cross.

The Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital School of Nursing was founded in 1896 following the establishment of Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital in 1892. The school has long been accredited by the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing. To learn more, please visit Conemaugh.org/SON.