Retired nurse and GCSU Alumna gives keynote speech at COHS commencement

Produced by University Communications

R etired registered nurse Anresa Davis of Savannah gave a keynote commencement address at her alma mater, Georgia College & State University.

Her message to students graduating from the university’s College of Health Sciences was simple: to identify their unique strengths, always be prepared to care for those who cannot care for themselves and go forward “brilliant and kind.”

You arrived here curious, hopeful and brimming with potential. You depart educated, skilled, prepared and more confident in your ability to provide both excellent patient care and unmatched customer service.
– Anresa Davis

Anresa Davis
Anresa Davis
Davis served more than 20 years as a nurse in surgical intensive care units and emergency rooms in Georgia. Then she joined the leadership team of Park Springs, a lifecare community in Stone Mountain, Georgia, where she worked until her retirement.


Davis received a bachelor of science in nursing degree from the Medical College of Georgia in 1976 after earning her associate degree in nursing at Georgia College in 1975. She was active on the Milledgeville campus as a resident advisor, basketball cheerleader and library work study student.

Davis remains an enthusiastic supporter, serving as a trustee on Georgia College’s Foundation Board. She’s also a member of the leadership board in the College of Health Sciences.

In 2013, Davis established and endowed the “M. Catherine Summerlin Honorary Scholarship” at Georgia College. It honors longtime nursing faculty member Catherine Summerlin, an associate professor of nursing from 1969 to 1988. Summerlin served  as department chair and director of Georgia College’s nursing program, as well. The scholarship is awarded annually to students pursuing nursing careers.

Davis told the health sciences class of 2024 how she grew up during college, and how her mentor—the strict Cathy Summerlin—helped her mature instantly when relaying only half the class would graduate. To those who would make it through, she said, “From this day forward, you will treat every person you care for as if that person is your mother.”

That statement changed Davis’ life forever.

“In that moment, the old me evaporated,” Davis said, “and Mrs. Summerlin became a major influence in my nursing career.”

Similarly, she urged today nursing graduates to lean on the knowledge and support they received in college and remember “that everyone has value and a voice.”

You are the guardians of dignity, safety, health and comfort. No matter your field, you are an advocate. Treat every vulnerable person with transparent compassion and empathy. Never forget that the least among us most often has the most to teach.
– Davis