Michaela Barthel Brady and Christina Garza share a passion that few others do - ensuring patient care and safety.

While Brady has been studying to become a nursing administrator, Garza has been taking courses to become a clinical nursing educator. They will receive their Master of Science in Nursing degrees Saturday from the University of Houston-Victoria School of Nursing and have been named the school's outstanding spring graduate students - Brady for academic excellence and Garza for clinical excellence.

"I am really passionate about patient safety and delivering the best nursing care possible," said Brady, a Sugar Land resident. "I became a nurse because I care about people. It's important that no matter where a patient is, he or she receives high-quality nursing care."

Garza, of Missouri City, looks forward to teaching students in a clinical practice setting.

"They're the future of nursing and will be taking care of patients at the bedside, and that needs to be done safely and competently," she said. "I want to give them the confidence and knowledge they need to make sound judgments in caring for patients."

Each semester, professors from the four UHV schools select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement. UHV will hold two spring graduation ceremonies on May 10 at Faith Family Church, 2002 E. Mockingbird Lane. The 9 a.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the schools of Arts and Sciences and Education and Human Development. The 1 p.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the schools of Business Administration and Nursing. A School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony will follow the afternoon commencement.

Brady's and Garza's selection as the School of Nursing's outstanding graduate students was based on their academic records and contributions to the school and community, said Kathryn Tart, founding dean of the UHV School of Nursing.

"These two women share a deep conviction about quality patient care and a genuine passion for applying their knowledge to help others," Tart said. "Our faculty members are proud to graduate them and confident they will succeed as leaders in health care."

Garza, who was born and raised in Rosenberg, wants to teach nursing students doing clinical rotations at hospitals. She also has an interest in educating the public about health promotion and disease prevention. At MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she has worked for eight years, she has had opportunities to teach new nurses in her unit.

"That's how I found that I really enjoy teaching, so I decided to go back to school," she said. "I realized that having a master's degree would provide me with greater opportunities in the future."

Garza worked full time throughout graduate school while raising three children.

"My husband was very supportive of me," she said. "I couldn't have done it without him."

Brady also has worked at MD Anderson Cancer Center and more recently full time as a charge nurse at Memorial Hermann Surgical Hospital - First Colony in Sugar Land while going to school. She got through it with the help of her faith and her motto to "keep going."

"I really enjoyed UHV and my instructors, and thought they really had a passion for helping students succeed," Brady said. "UHV puts good quality nurses out into the community, so the passion and goals of its faculty are aligned with mine really well. That's why I went there, and I'm happy that I did."

She looks forward to working in the areas of patient safety, nursing quality and nursing management in a hospital.

"I get personal satisfaction in knowing that I made a difference, and that's always my goal when I'm with my patients," Brady said. "I want to make a difference for them and somehow make their day and their hospital stay better."

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