Nine new students are recognized for making a positive difference in the lives of their patients, their organizations, and the future of nursing.

November 2013—In September, Walden University awarded nine incoming graduate students Nurses of the Year Scholarships. These scholarships recognize nurses who are making a positive difference in the lives of their patients, their organizations, and the future of nursing.

This doctoral student received a full-tuition scholarship:

Dominique Valentin

Dominique Valentin
Dominique Valentin

Hometown: Delmas, Haiti
Title: Educational and organizational development manager at J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO) in Delmas
Program: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Professional Achievement: After a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, Dominique Valentin left her position as a nurse at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City to return to her native country to volunteer, and later, to work at J/P HRO not only to increase the care offered in the country, but also to change the culture of nursing. “In Haiti, once you have completed your degree, you are considered an expert,” she explains. “There is very little interest in continued medical education (CME).” To begin a culture shift, she launched a CME program, which led to more than 160 new trainings and certifications. Ultimately, she hopes her example inspires her colleagues to achieve similar accomplishments.

Professional Goal: To plan CME programming across Haiti.

These doctoral students received $10,000: 

Christine A. Conner

Christine A. Conner
Christine A. Conner

Hometown: Brick, N.J.
Title: Clinical nurse specialist at Meridian Health Ocean Medical Center in Brick
Program: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Professional Achievement: After attending lectures at the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses National Teaching Institute in 2012, Christine A. Conner was moved to make a change in her hospital. An expert on venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis, she found her hospital lacked proper documentation and knowledge sharing on the topic. She reviewed all the available information and ultimately implemented both an electronic documentation system and on-site training to be sure each physician, nurse, and educator knows their role.

Professional Goal: To evaluate other medical processes and continue to educate nurses to increase positive patient outcomes.

Joanne Matthew

Hometown: Hope Valley, R.I.
Title: Director of nursing quality and intensive treatment at Butler Hospital in Providence
Program: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Professional Achievement: Joanne Matthew collaborated with other departments at Butler Hospital to develop new evidence-based interventions, ultimately beginning animal-assisted therapy, art therapies, and sensory modulation rooms for all inpatient units. As she opens each unit, she collaborates with a psychologist to improve treatment adherence.

Professional Goal: To contribute to the role of nurses in the changing healthcare arena.

This master’s student received a full-tuition scholarship: 

Christina “Nikki” Evans

Christina Evans
Christina  "Nikki" Evans

Hometown: Macon, Ga.
Title: Registered nurse at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon
Program: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Professional Achievement: Christina “Nikki” Evans is part of a team at the Medical Center of Central Georgia that has developed a recognized pediatric palliative care program through research and staff education.

Professional Goal: To continue to be an advocate for patients and be a leader for change in the healthcare field.

These master’s students received $10,000:

Susan R. Guest

Hometown: Provo, Utah
Title: Registered nurse at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City
Program: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Professional Achievement: Susan R. Guest took on responsibilities as a mentor to student nurses at Intermountain Healthcare, leading to work as a clinical coach and additional teaching opportunities for student nurses and fellow employees.

Professional Goal: To teach nursing students at the university level.

Judith L. Cronin

Judith Cronin
Judith L. Cronin

Hometown: Kalamazoo, Mich.
Title: Registered nurse at Bronson Methodist Hospital and an instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Program: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Professional Achievement: As a member of the Kalamazoo Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition training committee, Judith L. Cronin develops training and education for law enforcement, parents, and schools. She has also partnered with a physician and a representative from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children to create a training program for healthcare providers, and has presented to more than 70 nurses. Her goal is to expand the training, both to offer social work credits to students and to present at local hospitals and schools.

Professional Goal: To care for the underserved in clinics, shelters, churches, camps, and on mission trips around the world and to become a first responder for women rescued from human trafficking.

This bachelor’s student received a full-tuition scholarship:

Jody Doebbert

Jody Doebbert
Jody Doebbert

Hometown: Trempealeau, Wis.
Title: Staff nurse in the emergency department at Winona Health in Minneapolis
Program: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) Completion Program

Professional Achievement: Jody Doebbert has worked as a nurse for more than 15 years, most recently as a staff nurse in the emergency department at Winona Health in Minneapolis. She makes a point to enter each room with an open mind, open ears, and empathy sine strong nurse-patient relationships built on trust result, which lead to a higher quality of care.

Professional Goal: To strengthen her commitment to her patients and the nursing profession.

These bachelor’s students received $10,000:

Karen Ann Hunt

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.
Title: Registered nurse at Jeanes Hospital in Philadelphia
Program: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) Completion Program

Professional Achievement: Throughout her career as a nurse, Karen Ann Hunt has made a point not only to care for her patients from a procedural perspective, but also to ensure that future visits are avoidable. As a result of her leadership, she was recently named charge nurse within the Stroke-Telemetry Unit at Jeanes Hospital.

Professional Goal: To become a nurse educator to provide continuing education to licensed nursing staff.

Nyala Leslie

Nyala Leslie
Nyala Leslie

Hometown: Astoria, N.Y.
Title: Registered nurse at the Manhattan Surgery Center
Program: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) Completion Program

Professional Achievement: In addition to her duties as an intake nurse, Nyala Leslie has supervised the implementation of the Cyramed Electronic Medical Record System at the Manhattan Surgery Center, ultimately instructing administrators, doctors, and nurses to use and navigate the program.

Professional Goal: To be an even greater contributor to patients, the Manhattan Surgery Center, and the nursing profession itself.