Three Kent State University College of Nursing Legacy Students Share Stage with Alumni Parents at Spring Convocation Ceremony

While the Kent State University College of Nursing spring class of 2023 basked in their educational accomplishments during the Convocation pinning ceremony in May, nursing legacy students and siblings Mason and Morgan Copley, along with another nursing legacy, Niko Davis, shared that special moment with their parents, who are also nurses. Legacy students are individuals who have a close family member who has graduated from the same college, or in this case, the same nursing program. Christopher Copley, MSN, CRNA, graduated from Kent State University College of Nursing in 1999 with his Bachelor of Science in Nursing, while Lisa M. Davis, MSN, APRN, CPNP-PC, completed her undergraduate degree in 1994 and expects to graduate in May 2024 with her Doctor of Nursing Practice.  

“My Dad was extremely excited to pin my sister and me at the pinning ceremony,” said Mason Copley. “It was a great experience knowing he was there for us all throughout our college careers.”

“It was huge for me to have my dad pin me at the Convocation ceremony. It felt like all the hard work my dad went through while raising us had come full circle. I was so proud of him and always will be. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to have been there for me on my pinning day,” shared Morgan Copley. “The moment all three of us walked across the stage together was so special and rewarding.”

Niko Davis was also delighted to celebrate with his mom.

“The only person I wanted to ask to pin me at Convocation was my mom. I immediately Facetimed her so I could see her excitement. That’s a memory I will never forget,” recalled Davis. “During the ceremony, I was excited for her to pin me in front of my classmates.”

For Lisa Davis, that momentous walk across the stage transported her back in time.

“My heart soured when Niko asked me to present his pin to him, as mom to son, nurse to nurse. I immediately cried, thinking here is my son, a nurse and another goal accomplished,” she expressed. “Walking across the stage holding his hand just like when he was a little boy walking into kindergarten, I presented him to his new community, his new profession and observed his excitement and wonder.” 

Growing up with a parent as a nurse planted the seeds of interest in healthcare professions early on for each of the students.

Christopher (left) shows young Mason (center) and Morgan (right) around the operating room while carrying their younger brother.

“My dad was a huge inspiration to me. He was in nursing school while my brother and I were little. I would ask him a million questions about the hospital and wanted to hear all the cool things he was doing and experiencing. He is the smartest person I know, and I have always looked up to him,” recalled Morgan Copley. “I saw him studying for countless hours. He was also in the military at the time and went overseas as a medic. I heard so many stories from him that pushed me to go into nursing and make a difference in the world.”

“I remember how hard my mom worked to chase her dreams as I was growing up. I would watch her get ready for her 12-hour night shifts at Akron Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Department after spending hours on the computer at home doing homework, researching and writing long papers,” said Niko Davis. “I was initially unsure about what career path I wanted to pursue, but when I saw nursing students walking around campus wearing their scrubs, I thought I want to do that. I want to be a nurse just like mom!”

Christopher Copley wanted to become a nurse so he could care for those who could not care for themselves. He most enjoys the simple things about the profession, such as making someone feel better by doing a little extra above and beyond his normal responsibilities. He chose Kent State University because it was one of the best schools in the nation. Having grown up in Kent, OH, it also made sense to Copley to continue his education here in his hometown.

“My favorite memory from Kent State was my critical care experience at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Cleveland where I had my first exposure to anesthesia and the CRNA practice,” shared Copley. “I was also fortunate enough to meet my wife and start our family.”

Copley has gone on to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). He started a national anesthesia company that grew to include more than 30 hospitals in nine states over the past 10 years. Copley merged his company with Sound Physicians two years ago and now serves as the President of Anesthesia for Sound Anesthesia. The organization currently employs more than 1,000 anesthesia providers.

Lisa Davis had been attending a different university with the intention of pre-med studies. Her experiences as a student employee at the hospital as a patient transporter, however, re-directed her course of study. She saw the interactions between patients and staff and knew instantly that she wanted to have the nursing staff's relationship with their patients. Drawn to knowing and understanding the patient holistically, not just their diagnosis, Davis followed her compass and transferred to Kent State University due to its national ranking.

“I have many memories with my fellow students in the lab and carpooling to clinical sites across northeast Ohio. We would perform in video portrayals of clinical case studies demonstrating the therapeutic use of self, and they were often hilarious satires that we all enjoyed. My class will be celebrating our 30th graduation anniversary next May,” remarked Davis. “As a student now in the DNP program here at Kent State University College of Nursing, I have had the pleasure of being mentored by one of my previous classmates, Dr. Lisa Onesko, who is the Director of the DNP program.”

Davis has been practicing in Pediatric Endocrinology for the past 15 years, having been drawn to it following her clinical experience as a graduate student. She enjoys how this specialty has provided her with opportunities to practice to the fullest of her degree and licensure. She finds the advanced investigative knowledge needed for differential diagnoses, treatment, education and chronic patient care to be professionally fulfilling.

By sharing their fond memories of Kent State’s nursing program with their children, Copley and Davis inspired them to learn more. For Copley, both of his children looked at several other schools and made their own comparisons as he tried to remain as neutral as possible. He recalls being extremely proud when they chose Kent State independently.

“When I chose nursing to be my official major, I wanted to attend a very reputable program which led me to Kent State University,” shared Mason Copley. “My father went through Kent’s program and spoke highly of it saying how Kent State nurses were some of the best prepared coming out of school.”

“I chose Kent State University for its phenomenal reputation. I have always heard amazing things about the university and how well prepared all the nurses are when they enter the workforce,” stated Morgan Copley. “I was proud to be a part of Kent State’s nursing program since my dad and Uncle Matt both attended the school. I’ve always looked up to my family members and how successful they are. This made me want to follow in their footsteps and I knew Kent State was the right start for that.”

“I was already enrolled at Kent State University and decided to apply for the nursing program during my freshman year. My mom told me about her experiences in the nursing program, explaining that it was tough, with lots of studying and hard work, but how it would all be worth it in the end,” remembered Niko Davis. “It was most definitely worth it. Over the years I have heard people say that Kent State has a strong and tremendous nursing program and now I know that first-hand.”

Photo of Niko with his mom Lisa (top) with a photo of the handwritten message on the back (bottom).

Davis planned something extra special to share the news with his mom that he had been accepted to her alma mater.

“My husband and I have been blessed to have all four of our children attend Kent State University, our alma mater! When Niko applied to the nursing program, we all were on pins and needles waiting to hear, as it is one of the most competitive disciplines at Kent State University,” Lisa Davis said. “We anticipated receiving the news around Christmas time. I was given a wonderful Christmas present that year, a picture of the two of us with a handwritten note on the back that said ‘Maybe next time I’ll be wearing scrubs. Love, Niko Piko.’ He set one goal at a time, and he did it. My son was accepted into the College of Nursing.”  

Throughout their time at Kent State, Mason, Morgan and Niko have created their own fond memories.

“I enjoyed being on the volleyball team and having such memorable times at clinical and in the classroom,” said Morgan Copley. “I was blessed to have the best of both worlds. One side was sports and tons of exercise with awesome coaches. The other was learning how to save someone’s life and perform advanced skills at the hospital with brilliant instructors and professors.”

“My favorite memory was my experience with the Interprofessional Development Team, which was established by the university to create an online website for the elderly community in the city of Kent.  Kent Silver Foxes was a project led by two individuals selected from different degrees at Kent State,” explained Mason Copley. “My participation on the team counted for my community clinical hours and it was very rewarding to see our progress throughout the semester. Everyone on the team was amazing and we created a website pilot we had built from the ground up! My role was to build and structure the healthcare section of the website and provide the content for future use by the community.”

“I joined the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and have made some lifelong friendships,” expressed Niko Davis. “Being in a fraternity and being a nursing student was not always easy, but it taught me how to balance my time, especially when I became the fraternity academic advisor and later the Vice President.”

As his children’s senior year of college ended, Christopher Copley expressed how proud he was of all they have achieved.  

“The time has passed so quickly. I have enjoyed hearing all about their clinical experiences both in school and at their jobs as nursing techs at The Cleveland Clinic. It made me proud to watch them grow in their field and develop the skills necessary to become great nurses,” he shared. “We are a very close family so having them in the same career field is incredible. It makes for some interesting conversations around the dinner table. Fortunately, my wife has gotten used to it.”

For Lisa Davis, these past few years allowed her to help her son keep his long-term goals in sight.

“Niko had a different nursing education than mine due to the pandemic and remote lectures. If he felt disconnected, I provided him with gentle reminders that soon he would reap the reward for persevering,” she said. “I encouraged him to harness the power of a study buddy or two and to use the library, his faculty’s office hours and his own time wisely.”

Mason and Morgan (center) with their entire family at graduation.

As new graduates, Mason, Morgan and Niko are eagerly looking towards their futures. Mason is excited to pursue a career in critical care, drawn to the complex nature of the patients. Eventually, he would like to continue following in his father’s footsteps by pursuing an advanced degree in anesthesia.

“Without my dad, I would not be where I am today,” said Mason Copley. “I am beyond thankful for his influence on my career choice. He is always there for me and supports me unconditionally.”

Morgan recently accepted a position in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU), reveling in the fast-paced environment and the acuity of the patients. She plans to work in the ICU for two years before applying to anesthesia school to become a CRNA.

“When I started college, my parents told me to shoot for the stars. I’m so happy they pushed me to achieve both on the court and in the classroom,” exclaimed Morgan Copley.


Niko (third from right) with his entire family following Convocation.

Niko, likewise, recently accepted a position as a night shift nurse in the Emergency Department. After gaining a few years of experience in the field, Niko plans to return to school to pursue his MSN and become a Nurse Practitioner in the Emergency Department.

“I have the utmost gratitude and thankfulness for my mom. She has been an example of leadership, knowledge, kindness and strong work effort,” shared Niko Davis. “Having watched her work hard to get her advanced degrees and certifications has been monumental and makes me want to continue following in her footsteps.”

Thinking about what they wanted to share with their children and the rest of the class of 2023, Christopher Copley had these final words to share.

“Nursing has changed my life and given me the ability to help people when they need it most. The fact that my children have adopted this mantra and are now taking on a similar approach to life, makes me proud.  Nursing is the one field where we can truly show our humanity and demonstrate selflessness,” emphasized Copley. “Being a nurse is more than band aides and needles, it’s about making a difference when no one else can. Care for every patient like they’re your own family and never compromise your integrity. As nurses, we never stop learning and always find opportunities to teach. Never hesitate to ask for help and always put your patients first.”

POSTED: Thursday, July 13, 2023 10:54 AM
Updated: Monday, July 17, 2023 04:23 PM
Mariah Gibbons