Congratulations Graduates!

COVID-19 Update: Commencement Postponed

To our UTMB School of Nursing class of 2020,

Alongside our colleagues throughout UTMB Health, we are closely monitoring developments with the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and making the best decisions based on current knowledge. Due to the need for social distancing to help control the spread of this virus, we have made the decision to postpone our Commencement ceremony.

Like you, we have been looking forward to this special occasion, but we must prioritize the health and safety of our students and their families, our faculty, staff and the community. The new plans for Commencement have not yet been determined, but we will communicate those to you as early as possible.

We are so proud of your achievements and look forward to celebrating your graduation. Please monitor the SON website ( for further communications as they develop.

Meet Our Special Guest Speaker

Ernestine "Tina" Cuellar, PhD, RN, PMHCNS, BC

Ernestine Cuellar, PhD, RN, PMHCNS, BC

Dr. Ernestine "Tina" Cuellar is a 1967 graduate of Norfolk State University, an historically black university located in Norfolk, Virginia. After graduating with an Associate's degree in Nursing, she went on to pass the registered nurse state board exam (precursor to NCLEX) at the age of 20.

Following her husband in his naval career, she practiced nursing in Virginia, Florida, and Texas. She worked in several nursing specialty areas including medical, obstetrics and mental health. It was during this time that she developed an affinity for mental health services.

After establishing her family in Texas, she began working on a master's degree – as required by the State – in order to continue practicing as a nurse manager in mental health units. She completed her Associate Degree to Masters of Science degree in Nursing at The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) in San Antonio where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Upon graduating from UTHSC, she was commissioned a Captain in the United States Air Force Reserves Nurse Corps and served in Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.

During her time in the reserves, she and a colleague are credited with developing a multidisciplinary mental health training course for mental health technicians, nurses, social workers, and psychologists.

Dr. Cuellar obtained a doctorate degree in nursing from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in 2006. Additionally, she served as Air Force Reserve Mental Health subject matter expert to United States Air Force Major General Melissa Rank. Dr. Cuellar was later promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel.

She was a faculty member with the UTMB School of Nursing and later served as an Associate Dean for the school before retiring in 2013.

After retirement, she went on to work as Curriculum Director for Elsevier HESI and then became Director of Elsevier HESI Live Review.

She served as President of the Texas Nurses Association in three districts including the 3,500 district membership in Galveston/Houston District 9, was on the Board of Directors of the Association of Black Nursing Faculty and was President of the UTMB School of Nursing Alumni Association.

Currently, she is serving on the board of the Texas Nurses Association (TNA) District 9, TNA State Board of Directors, is a member of the Galveston County Chapter of the Black Nurses Association and the Association of Black Nursing Faculty, and an active member of UTMB's Alpha Delta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau.

Questions about the ceremony? Check out our

Commencement Frequently Asked Questions

Hotel Accommodations

Students and guests are offered a special nightly rate of $189 for Thursday, April 23, 2020, through Saturday, April 25, 2029. Contact the reservations department by April 2, 2020 and specify the UTMB School of Nursing Commencement.

Moody Gardens Hotel

Employment & Alumni

Alumni Registration

Register for membership to the SON Alumni Association. Get connected, network and share professional news, learn about employment opportunities and watch for upcoming events!

Nurses Lounge

Connect with other nurses, build your network, advance your career and search for education opportunities with this online networking tool for nursing professionals.


Please use the following link to order your Commencement regalia and/or UTMB announcements:

  • Google Chrome is recommended, but any browser should work provided Flash is enabled.
  • Enter your 6-digit UTMB student ID number (do not enter the 000 prefix).
  • Your email address is required to receive a confirmation.
  • To avoid late fees, the deadline is March 20, 2020 for all regalia orders.
  • DNP graduates only must enter their tam size.

Please visit the Campus Store or use the following link to order a diploma frame:

Please do not hesitate to contact the Campus Store for assistance at 409-772-1939.


Please use the following link and directions to order your SON pin by January 31, 2020 at 5:30 PM CST:

  1. Click on the "LOGIN NOW" on the bottom left of the homepage
  2. Enter the following login information:
    • Password: utmb2020
  3. Click on "Nursing Students Click Here" and find "UTMB" in the drop-down menu
  4. Make your selection (Choose between Sterling Silver, Gold Filled, 10k Gold, or 14k Gold)
  5. After you "Add to Cart", review your selection and "Proceed to Checkout"
  6. Complete "Billing Details"and click on "Bill and Ship to this Address"
    • You will ONLY change the shipping information that preloads if you are NOT attending Commencement and want the pin shipped to your home.
    • Please remember if you are shipping to your home – you MUST call the Bookstore to arrange this.
  7. Complete payment information.

After ordering, you will receive a confirmation email to your email address you used when you logged in. If you do not receive this confirmation OR you make a mistake on your order, do not reorder but rather call Alicia Brandt at 817-877-0513 x304.

Please remember that your pin will ship to the Bookstore in time for your graduation. It will only ship to your home if you do not attend Commencement and select that option when ordering your pin, and you must call the Bookstore at 409-772-1939 to pay the $12.99 shipping fee.