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Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing

College of Health Sciences

First graduates reflect on
the Marcia Dale Aspire Scholars Program

First Aspire Graduate Madison Vigil


A little about Aspire...

The Nursing Aspire program's purpose is to develop leaders in nursing to advance the profession. The late Dr. Marcia Dale (former dean of the School of Nursing) loved students, greatly enjoyed mentoring them, and was undoubtedly the epitome of a leader. For these reasons and more, the Aspire program was renamed the "Marcia Dale Aspire Scholars" program in her honor.

Four students are accepted into the program each year following an intense application/interview process. The Inaugural Aspire group of four are now seniors and will be graduating this May 2015. This is the last of four spotlights where each senior reflects on the value of the Marcia Dale Aspire Scholars program.

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A background on Madison Vigil...

Madison Vigil from Centennial, Colorado says she always had an interest in nursing, but points to an internship she had as a junior in high school at Children's Hospital Colorado that confirmed her love of the nursing field. "I spent six weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit shadowing nurses and nurse practitioners," says Vigil. "I saw some amazing things and fell in love with the nursing field!" Vigil says she also had an internship in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Hospital Colorado during her college years one summer. "These internships have fueled my desire to become a nurse and have motivated me to push through any obstacle that may get in my way!"

Vigil chose the University of Wyoming for her nursing education for several reasons: "My dad attended the University of Wyoming, so I had wanted to go there as well. When I visited the campus, I loved the location and the people. I am from the city, so the small town feel is a nice change. After visiting other colleges, the nursing program at UW was one of the strongest, so I thought it would be the perfect college for me."

Once on campus, Vigil was drawn to the Aspire program, wanting to become more involved in the nursing community and to improve her leadership skills. Vigil has kept busy on campus and off, holding a position as head coach for Special Olympics Track, and sitting on the board of directors for Laramie Special Olympics as the Volunteer Coordinator.

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A review of Aspire...

How has Aspire affected your view of nursing leadership?

Aspire has greatly affected the way I view nursing leadership. The Aspire program exposed me to a variety of different leadership roles in nursing. You do not have to hold a position that is traditionally associated with leadership, such as a charge nurse, a nurse manager, a chief nursing officer, etc. You can be a leader in every position you hold, including as a bedside nurse. Nurses can be influential leaders no matter what position they are in.

Of the events you participated in as an Aspire student, describe which has made the biggest impact on you as a student, as a nurse and as a prospective leader?

Every opportunity that I have participated in with Aspire has made an immense impact on me; however, the American Nurses Association Quality Conference impacted me most. At this conference, we were able to attend seminars presented by nurses from around the country about improving quality care. Not only did I learn a lot about the subject matter being presented, but the over all culture and environment at the conference also impacted me greatly. The research that was done was incredible. It was inspiring to see nurses who recognized issues and did research to try to improve these issues. It motivated me to be actively involved in my patients’ care and invested in their well-being. Bedside nurses can be very influential leaders. They see issues first hand and have the ability to advocate for their patients to improve patient care. This conference inspired me to act as a leader in every position that I hold.

What has been a challenge?

In thinking about this question, the thought that popped into my mind was the importance of managing my time. However, every minute that I have put into the Aspire program has been so beneficial to me. Everything we do has a purpose and has provided me with skills that will make me a better nurse.

Has Aspire affected your view of what nurses do?

Aspire has taught that leadership is a major aspect of what nurses do. It is important for us to advocate for our patients and lead change to improve the care our patients receive. Throughout my time with Aspire, I have learned that every type of nurse can be a leader.

How would you describe the Aspire program to prospective students?

I would describe the Aspire program as an opportunity of a lifetime. Aspire students are selected because of their leadership potential. This program builds upon your talents to further develop your professional leadership skills. As an Aspire student, you will have various opportunities to learn and practice leadership skills that will enable you to become a well-rounded, influential nurse.

What doors of opportunity have opened to you as a result of Aspire?

I have had many opportunities because of Aspire. One opportunity was to attend the American Nurses Association Quality Care Conference. I was able to learn so much from this conference, and it inspired me to become an influential leader in nursing. I have also had various networking opportunities through Aspire. We met many current leaders in nursing and have been able to talk with them about their career path, our plans for the future, and any advice they may have for us. Because of the Aspire program, I now have amazing nurse leaders to mentor me through nursing school and beyond.


posted 5/04/2015


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