School of Nursing Recognizes Outstanding Students and Faculty with End-of-Year Awards

By Grace Houdek

The University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing is proud to honor eight students and one faculty member with the 2022 School of Nursing Academic Awards. The annual awards recognize students and faculty who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, service, community impact, and a strong commitment to the nursing profession. Awards will be presented at the Spring Graduation Celebration events in May.

Meet the Recipients

Nisreen Alnuaimi
Nisreen Alnuaimi, PhD Candidate

Nisreen Alnuaimi, MSN, RN, PhD candidate
Signe Skott Cooper Writing Award recipient, “Paternal Bonding with Prematurely Born Infants”

During her time at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Nursing, Nisreen Alnuaimi has gained research-related skills that include advanced writing skills as a nurse researcher and as an international student, whose second language is English. Alnuaimi published a qualitative meta-synthesis in the Western Journal of Nursing Research, in which the review aimed to identify a conceptual model of paternal bonding with premature infants. In her most recent work, she is finalizing a manuscript related to a concept of analysis of paternal bonding with premature infants. The concept analysis will be submitted to The Journal of Obstetric Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN).

“It’s an honor to be the recipient of the Signe Skott Cooper Writing Award,” says Alnuaimi. “It is a confirmation of the value of my scholarly work and a motivation to embrace a change toward more inclusive fathering-related research.”

About the Signe Skott Cooper Writing Award

The Signe Skott Cooper Writing Award encourages students to write for publication. All currently enrolled UW–Madison School of Nursing students who are the primary author of a paper or manuscript may submit it for this award. The paper or manuscript must be on a topic of interest to nursing, and it must be ready for submission or have been submitted to a nursing or health-related journal.

Sam Anderson ’22, TBSN

Sam Anderson ’22, Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award recipient

Sam Anderson had a difficult time transitioning to college, but he renewed his commitment to his academic success during his sophomore year. Since then, he has maintained a 4.0 grade point average and is often found helping his nursing cohort study for exams. The secret to his success, he says, is putting himself out there to learn as much as he can.

“When we were learning online during the pandemic, I made sure to participate and take the daunting step of speaking in front of the entire class. I also took advantage of office hours and asked questions to better understand the material,” says Anderson. “This was most definitely stepping out of my comfort zone, but over time it became a habit. Throughout the duration of nursing school, my peers have noticed this habit and have been thankful that I have taken the chance to speak up in front of everyone. It sounds extremely simple, but in reality, it can be very scary.”

Outside of the classroom, Anderson is a School of Nursing student ambassador and serves on the Student Advisory Board, both of which allow him to give a voice to the student experience and help pave a better path for future Badger nurses. Some of his favorite work experiences include clinical rotations in the intensive care unit at the VA hospital, the neuro intermediate care unit, as well as a student nurse assistant position in the pediatric intensive care unit.

About the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award

The Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award is bestowed upon a nursing student who excels in academic performance, clinical competence, and professional and community service.

Samira Barti
Samira Barti ’22, TBSN

Samira Barti ’22, Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing
DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students recipient

As a nurse, Samira Barti recognizes the honor and privilege it is to form intimate, meaningful relationships with her patients while seeing them at their most vulnerable moments. During her student internship in the summer of 2021, Barti made it her goal to learn as much as possible to improve her patient education skills and act as an advocate for women of color during their birthing stay. This was the summer Barti met a patient she says she will never forget.

The patient was a Black woman in her 30s, who Barti got to know on a deeper level. She provided extra care to her patient by taking the time to get to know her and make her comfortable in asking questions and asking for help. Barti discovered the type of nurse she wanted to embody. This experience molded her into a holistic nurse, who advocates for herself and her patients regardless of her hesitation or fear. Her nursing care is grounded in the belief of tending to the patient’s needs, specifically the social-emotional elements.

Even as a student nurse, Barti has already begun changing lives through her commitment to eradicating health disparities, as well as combating bias and racism in health. Outside of the work environment, Barti supports her classmates and goes above and beyond in every aspect of nursing. As a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the first intercollegiate historically African American sorority, Barti’s passions are exemplified by supporting Black women in health care. Her genuine love for the nursing profession and advocacy will fuel her in her career and beyond.

Bridget Horton
Bridget Horton ’22, ABSN

Bridget Horton ’22, Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing
DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students recipient

Bridget Horton has always been a caring, sensitive, and empathetic person. These were characteristics she thought were her weaknesses and something she needed to improve upon – until she started nursing school. Through her education, she learned that nursing is not just a science, but also an art that requires compassion and listening to the needs of patients.

For Horton, the best part of nursing is being able to form close relationships with those who are putting their health and trust in her hands. She creates deep, meaningful relationships with her patients by getting to know their lives, families, interests, hobbies, and more. By building these relationships, Horton establishes trust and respect in which she can properly cater a patient’s plan of care to fit their own personal objects and goals.

Horton also recognizes that patient advocacy is another important aspect of nursing care. While she strongly advocates on behalf of patients, she also encourages her patients to advocate for themselves. She reminds patients that they have a right to make many decisions about their treatment, even when things may feel outside of their control, which often results in a more trusting and respectful health care environment.

“I work hard to be the best nurse possible and am excited to continue learning throughout my experiences within my nursing career and will continue to enjoy the best part of nursing — the art of nursing,” says Horton.

About the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students

The DAISY in Training Student Award was created to remind nursing students, even on their hardest days in nursing school, why they want to be a nurse.  It recognizes nursing students for the above-and-beyond care and compassion they show patients and their families as they are learning what it means to be a nurse. Nominees demonstrate commitment to compassionate care of patients and families, make a connection with patients, families, and peers by building trust and respect, advocate strongly for patients, and demonstrate exceptional skill.

Raquel Burnham
Raquel Burnham ’22, TBSN

Raquel Burnham ’22, Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Mary L. Keller Research Award recipient

Raquel Burnham is a strong advocate with a passion for social justice. For nearly three years, Burnham has been part of Dr. Maichou Lor’s research that helps investigate healthcare disparities for Hispanic adults. Her specific research study looks at hearing loss and its care for Hispanic adults and their caregivers. Through her research, she has been able to present at conferences and complete a manuscript for publication. The research done has been able to help understand the intricacies of hearing loss care for Hispanic adults and their caregivers, including distinct attitudes and barriers that exist for these patients. Burnham hopes to use her background research from UW–Madison to enhance her own practice and others’. Additionally, she plans to extend her research in the clinical setting at a MAGNET® hospital to incorporate more diverse and inclusive practices in the preoperative setting. She has found a way to merge her love of research with a passion for health equity to serve the greater good.

“Research gives me the opportunity to go beyond my clinical practice and manifest change in a broader realm,” says Burnham. “It is an honor to be recognized for my research at UW–Madison that has driven my last two years and allowed me to grow as a more holistic healthcare professional.”

About the Mary L. Keller Research Award

The Mary L. Keller Memorial Research Award is named after Professor Mary Keller, who taught at the School of Nursing for nearly two decades. She is remembered as an outstanding scholar and mentor to students. In memory of Professor Keller, who died of cancer in 2006, an award was established to recognize a student who embodies Professor Keller’s passion and integrity.

Rachel Phillips Chenoweth
Rachel Phillips Chenoweth, DNP’22

Rachel Phillips Chenoweth, BSN, RN, DNP’22
DNP Excellence Award recipient

Described by her peers as a constant source of support, Rachel Phillips Chenoweth shows high levels of intelligence and achievement in class discussions and clinical rotations. For several years, Chenoweth has worked as a project assistant in Dr. Rachel Gicquelais’ research group. In this role, Chenoweth helped with data collection, design, and analysis of a project that sought to identify strategies for overdose prevention within substance use and mental health treatment organizations. Expanding on her DNP scholarly project, Chenoweth implemented an overdose safety planning intervention that she delivered to 10 patients receiving treatment for opioid use disorder in Madison, WI.

Outside of her academic and scholarly achievements, Chenoweth is active as a member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) and the Graduate Nursing Student Organization at the School of Nursing. Additionally, she has volunteered in collecting data for the Dane County Care Center and as a CPR instructor at Operation Fresh Start. After graduation, Chenoweth will practice child and adolescent psychiatry. She shows strong leadership and commitment and is an exemplary nurse leader and adept practitioner.

Chenoweth says, “I am incredibly honored and humbled to receive nominations for the School of Nursing DNP Excellence Award. Throughout my time at UW–Madison, I have been fortunate to be involved in a variety of research projects all while working with outstanding mentors.”

About the DNP Excellence Award

Students eligible for the DNP Excellence Awards must demonstrate consistent success in all areas of emphasis in the DNP curriculum. These include clinical scholarship, leadership, and policy development, as well as advanced clinical practice. Their achievements in at least two of these areas must be regarded as outstanding. Finally, the eligible nominee(s) must have contributed meaningfully to the School of Nursing or our community through voluntary service activities that go beyond those required as part of the DNP program.

Taylor DiRienzo
Taylor DiRienzo ’22, TBSN

Taylor DiRienzo ’22, Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Ginsberg/Meyerhoff Family Award recipient

Taylor DiRienzo is a professional in all his academic and extracurricular duties. He goes the extra mile to support other students, the overall School of Nursing mission, and the community. He is part of the volunteer medical team for clinics in Nicaragua, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Kenya. Additionally, he has served local free clinics with MEDiC, a student-led organization that runs six free health clinics throughout the Madison area. He is also an active participant in the Success Through Recruitment/Retention, Engagement, and Mentorship (STREAM) program and the Native American Center for Health Professionals. His commitment to equity and inclusion is evident in his role as the diversity representative for the 2022 graduating class.

DiRienzo says, “I’m beyond honored to be chosen for this award as it validates those many nights where I doubted whether I was doing enough for myself, my family and friends, the School of Nursing, and my communities. Those feelings of inadequacy often coexist in the absence of recognition. There is always someone watching, and this honor motivates me further to continue serving and advocating for others in my communities. ‘Be the change (and advocate for the change) you want to see in the world.'”

About the Ginsberg/Meyerhoff Family Award

The Ginsberg Family Award is a UW–Madison campus award. It is awarded to junior or senior students who have made outstanding contributions to the university community while maintaining strong and consistent academic performance. The Ginsberg family distributes these awards in honor of the late Dean of Students Paul Ginsberg. Paul’s family recognizes his profound impact on the campus community and wants to continue his legacy of transforming the student experience.

Nichole Hinkel
Nichole Hinkel, MSN, RN-BC

Nichole Hinkel, MSN, RN-BC
DAISY Faculty Award recipient

Nichole Hinkel’s passion for nursing, combined with her hard work, compassion, and ability to balance fun and work makes her an outstanding clinical instructor. Hinkel challenges and supports her students while looking for innovative ways to teach nursing concepts. Because of Hinkel, students learn not only about nursing skills and practices but how to be the best nurses they can possibly be.

She also prioritizes her students’ health and well-being. After a challenging semester for clinical groups, Hinkel took the time to individually reach out to students to ensure they were receiving the help they needed to succeed. By creating a safe space for students to grow and collaborate while also tending to their own needs, Hinkel fosters an inclusive and engaging learning environment that inspires students to excel as nurses.

About the DAISY Faculty Award

The DAISY Foundation recognizes that the pressures on nursing faculty are numerous, yet their impact is powerful. Many students talk about hearing a professor’s or instructor’s voice in their ears even years after they have graduated. These dedicated nursing faculty members often do not receive appropriate recognition for the effect they have on their students, on patient care, and on the professionalism of nursing. The DAISY Faculty Award was created to recognize and celebrate the contributions faculty make to the future of nursing.

Mikayla Srnka
Mikayla Srnka ’22, TBSN

Mikayla Srnka ’22, Traditional BSN Program
Badger Future Nurse Leader Award recipient

Leadership and volunteerism have played a major role in Mikayla Srnka’s life, from volunteering at her local food pantry to hosting donation drives for families of children with cancer. Through her coursework as a nursing student, she learned about health equity issues, including social determinants of health. She quickly realized she wanted to address these social determinants both at the bedside and in the community. One way Srnka does this is by hosting events to inform others about causes she cares about and to inspire them to take action. She hosted a supplies drive for Afghan Refugees at Fort McCoy who were awaiting resettlement. She also hosted a fundraising drive for Be The Match, the international bone marrow donor registry, after learning about the importance of stem cell transplants.

“I believe a great leader is someone who builds up others to be leaders and do good for themselves and others. Leadership and volunteerism have been a huge part of my life, and I plan on continuing this passion into my career and future as a nurse,” says Srnka.

About the Badger Future Nurse Leader Award

The Badger Future Nurse Leader Award recognizes a student who is an exemplary leader and embodies the ethics and values of nursing. Nominees must demonstrate leadership; prepare, motivate, and impact other students as leaders; participate in community activities and giving back to others; mentor fellow students; promote activity in nursing organizations; make a significant contribution to the overall excellence of their school; set a healthy example and promote a healthy lifestyle; and demonstrate a clear sense of direction for their future nursing career.