Pin Donor: Jane Jordan Farrell ’61
School of Nursing clinical instructor Jennifer Drake says that traditional BSN student Chaya Miller is always engaged and committed to her learning. “She is a bright student and has excellent insights to share. Her life experiences provide an alternative perspective which has enhanced class discussions and increased knowledge of her peers.”
As a first-generation college student, Miller has experienced multiple hardships along her journey towards nursing, including living with chronic pain since childhood. But the adversity has helped shape her into the driven, self-sufficient person she is today, and has fueled her commitment to being a nurse as well as reinforced her passion to be a voice for her community.
“Her journey to become a nurse has been fraught with hardships. These experiences have become steps along the road which led her to becoming the nurse she dreamed of. Despite this journey where nothing said, ‘persevere’ or ‘try again,’ she did anyway. She is an incredible example of a Badger nurse,” Drake concludes.
“I chose nursing because I have first-hand experience of the inequalities that can happen within the health care setting and understand how many patients may feel alone. I want to help change that,” says Miller. “I want to be the person who believes the patient and is there for them and them only. I’ve been told many times I am a natural caregiver and have outstanding bedside manner; this is because I love what I do and enjoy being that sunshine on my patient’s most rainy, dark days. It makes everything so worth it!”
Miller has used her undergraduate journey to already start advocating for those who are unable to advocate for themselves. She has been assisting with a project led by School of Nursing professor Linda D. Oakley, PhD, RN, that explores the impact of the threat of dying young among the Black young adult community. Witnessing the impact of gun violence on her own community growing up has fueled her passion to improve the health of the Black community even more.
“One of the most important things I look forward to doing with this degree is becoming an advocate for those whose voices are silenced,” says Miller. “I want to lessen the disparities and share the knowledge I’ve gained with underrepresented communities.”
Born and raised in Madison, Miller notes that she would eventually like to become a travel nurse to learn as much as she can about different cultures and health practices performed across the country.
Her pin is donated by Jane Jordan Farrell ’61, who decided to pursue a career in nursing after working for several summers as a nurse’s aide. “I loved sciences and decided on nursing as my career after my junior year of high school,” she notes.
Farrell spent her career primarily in nursing education: teaching in nursing schools, advocating for staff development, working on several teaching projects for the UW extension, teaching pre-natal classes for expectant parents, doing clinical testing for Excelsior College in New York, as well as 11 years as the director of the Excelsior Clinical Performance in Nursing Center in Madison before she retired. “For many years, I also worked part time doing bedside nursing,” she adds. “I wanted to make sure my teaching was still relevant to current practice.”
When asked what she remembers most fondly from her time at the School of Nursing, Farrell notes, “My classmates and our sharing of so many clinical experiences and discussions in the dorm afterwards. Many of these friendships are still active after over 60 years.”
“I believe I graduated from the very best nursing school, which provided me with the knowledge and skills I needed,” says Farrell. “Whatever version of nursing I was currently employed in, I found great satisfaction and tried to perform as we had been taught – to always treat the patient or students as a real person who deserved the best care I could provide.
Farrell wanted to donate her pin to a graduate who would love it as much as she did throughout her career. “I have always loved and been so proud of my UW–Madison Nursing pin,” she says. “I always wore it whenever I worked at my various nursing-related jobs. I want to give it to someone who will love it, wear it, and feel pride in it as I always have.”
For Miller, the honor of being chosen to receive a pin is greatly appreciated. “Receiving this nursing pin is such an honor and means a lot to me,” she says. “I am proud to join the long line of phenomenal nurses and be a part of the rich tradition in the UW–Madison Nursing program.”