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Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing

College of Health Sciences

2016 Nursing Convocation Student Awards

Each year at the School of Nursing Convocation ceremonies, faculty recognize individual students for their excellence in a variety of areas. The 2016 Convocation was held Friday, May 13 in the Arts & Sciences Auditorium. Please scroll down to read about students and the awards with which they were honored.

Samantha Baker: Gertrude Gould Lindsay Memorial Award

Samantha Baker: Gertrude Gould Lindsay Memorial Award

For excellence in public health nursing practice: Samantha Baker not only has a love for nursing, but has done an excellent job working in the area of public health. She is extremely motivated to seek out new learning experiences, expanding her knowledge. She has shown great aptitude in working in challenging environments with all types of patients. She shines when working with vulnerable clients, anticipating their needs and thinking outside the box when envisioning their care. She is professional, able to think critically, and jumps into nursing’s collaborative team approach in the public health environment. She keeps her focus on patient safety while being responsive to the needs of the patient and family.


Randy Baxter: "Making a Difference in Wyoming's Health" Award

Randy Baxter: "Making a Difference in Wyoming's Health" Award

Randy became a nurse in 2010. His background is in medical-surgical/ICU nursing at Powell Valley Healthcare. When he started as an RN, he says he didn’t understand what it meant to be a nurse. Today he proudly reports passion for primary care, disease prevention and health promotion nursing. Understanding the importance of providing education to patients/families, he supports his community through advocacy, encouraging all to take responsibility for their health. Randy starts the DNP program at UW this fall, challenging himself to provide exceptional care in Park County, WY. His goal: to be a life-long learner, grow as a professional, make positive lasting impact on others' lives, and have a positive influence upon the community and WY health care systems.


Chrystal Brown: Courage to Teach Award

Chrystal Brown: Courage to Teach Award

For the personification of a critically reflective attitude about learning and teaching: Chrystal has demonstrated significant growth and development in her teaching and leadership skills through the Master's program. She consistently takes the initiative to excel in her coursework and seeks additional experiences that add to her thinking about nursing education. Her capacity for critical reflection has enriched her learning, as well as that of her fellow learners.


Diana Charlson: Dr. Patsy Hesen Haslam Leadership Award

Diana Charlson: Dr. Patsy Hesen Haslam Leadership Award

For the display of both leadership and grace in the DNP Program: Diana Charlson entered the Doctor of Nursing Practice program with a high degree of maturity, professionalism, and a passion for excellence in primary care practice. She approached every assignment and clinical rotation with humility, and had a genuine desire to learn and improve her knowledge and skills and to promote excellence in primary care. She routinely sought and responded to instructor and peer feedback, serving as a role model to her peers. Throughout her tenure in the program, DNP faculty members have enjoyed watching Charlson transform into an exemplary primary care leader and are excited to follow her future accomplishments.


Rachel Choquette: Dorothy Tupper Memorial Award

Rachel Choquette: Dorothy Tupper Memorial Award

For caring, compassion, and interpersonal communication: “As long as I have known Rachel Choquette,” says her nominator, “she has been exceptionally caring –toward fellow students, faculty, staff, or patients. She has shown true compassion and caring in all of her clinical experiences, but most notably during her capstone experience. Rachel worked with a variety of patients. Whether she was talking with family members who have just lost their father or with a patient coming out of surgery, her strength was in ‘being there,’ truly listening, and helping the patient and their family. On several occasions Rachel’s preceptors commented about her caring demeanor and her ability to listen and truly connect with her patients."


Jordan Davis: School of Nursing Spirit Award

Jordan Davis: School of Nursing Spirit Award

For student with exceptional spirit and enthusiasm: Jordan Davis has a smile that could warm even the harshest of Wyoming winter days. She enthusiastically participated in Discovery Days as a student representative, speaking with prospective students and their parents about our Basic BSN program. Her good-natured cheer knows no bounds. She has expressed her gratitude at being a part of our community, and has mentored and encouraged her fellow students. In clinical, she displayed boundless energy and a strong sense of ownership for the well-being of her patients.


Kelby Dickerson: Amelia Leino Memorial Award

Kelby Dickerson: Amelia Leino Memorial Award

For a senior outstanding in family nursing: Kelby Dickerson has shown great passion in her clinical rotation in the Family Care Unit at Ivinson Memorial Hospital. She is a leader among her peers, and will continue to exemplify the characteristics of caring and advocacy for the families she will encounter as a nurse. She has demonstrated both kindness and strong clinical knowledge in her short time here.


Michelle Dowling: Alpha Pi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau Award

Michelle Dowling: Alpha Pi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau Award

For exemplary rural practice in nursing: Dowling’s DNP project simultaneously addressed WY’s shortage of primary care providers and the need to help new practitioners transition into practice. Dowling interviewed 9 directors/providers from 5 of WY’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) re: interest in developing post-graduate NP residencies. Her interviews reveal excitement about residencies as a way to advance new NP confidence/competence, to increase WY’s primary care workforce, and to address areas of concern regarding funding/mentoring. Her project will be used by WY Primary Care Association to explore development of NP residencies in WY’s FQHCs, benefiting new NPs, WY's primary care workforce, and WY's people.


Joseph Falcone: Dorothy Tupper Memorial Award

Joseph Falcone: Dorothy Tupper Memorial Award

For caring, compassion and interpersonal communication: Joseph Falcone demonstrated skills far beyond his educational training during his Medical Surgical rotation at Platte County Memorial Hospital in Wheatland. Joe assessed a patient who quickly began to deteriorate, so notified the nurse in charge. The patient was placed back on Cpap. Joe noted a continued deterioration, so again approached the nurse. The patient went into severe respiratory distress and was intubated at the bedside. Advocating for his patient, Joe—along with the gathered team of physician, ER, OR, experienced ICU RN and flight team—was an active participant in saving the patient's life. Joe is an excellent student and will make a wonderful nurse.


Kali Howe: Rudolph "Rudy" and Louise Anselmi and Jeri Kirk Family Trust Nursing Scholarship

Kali Howe: Rudolph "Rudy" and Louise Anselmi and Jeri Kirk Family Trust Nursing Scholarship

For leadership and responsibility: Kali Howe, president of Student Nurses Association (SNA), expanded SNA’s range, restructured group operations, and intensified outreach to pre-nursing students. Kali was integral to UW SNA joining the state-wide WYO SNA. She spearheaded SNA officers’ involvement in brainstorming sessions, planning mentoring events for students with new UW Alumni Association Nursing Chapter. She participated in National SNA Convention in Arizona, attended Student Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., advocating for health policy on Capitol Hill. Personally, Kali’s compassion for patients and respect for their dignity shows in interactions with peers. A great role model, she demonstrates professionalism and integrity in all settings.


Mariah Kepler: Beverly McDermott Award

Mariah Kepler: Beverly McDermott Award

Leadership & Political Activism: Mariah Kepler joined a school brigade in Agua Salada, Honduras. The clinic environment is challenging physically, emotionally, and professionally. She met those challenges head-on, providing empathic, culturally competent care. Mariah demonstrated leadership consistently during the nine-day trip. She prioritized the needs of the most challenged among both patients and team members and led by example. Continually wanting to learn, she took on the most onerous clinic tasks with focus and determination. Upon return, she recruited others for the next trip, participating in fundraising. She will use strong leadership skills as she moves forward as an RN, and has great promise for a global health career.


Kalee Plowman:  Passion for Nursing Award

Kalee Plowman: Passion for Nursing Award

Kalee Plowman is a dedicated student with a positive attitude, always striving to do her best. She never stops searching for more information to better her practice. Kalee helps patients in whatever way they require, having no problem soaking feet, clipping toenails or showering them. She questions everything in a way that puts all of the puzzle pieces together, allowing her to provide the best possible care. If something fails to make sense, she perseveres until she understands, asking questions, watching videos, or pouring over reference books. In her first Medical Surgical clinical, she wrote down medical facts she wanted to remember, later using them in competitive games with family/friends. She will be a fabulous nurse.


Lucas Simmons: Lina Kennedy White Memorial Award

Lucas Simmons: Lina Kennedy White Memorial Award

Lucas Simmons worked on the medical floor at CRMC, where at least 80% of his patients were geriatric, with a variety of illnesses including COPD, hepatic failure, alcoholism, seizures, diabetes, keto-acidosis, etc. Lucas was extremely patient, always respectful of those in his care. Patients asked where he was each day, and one patient cried when she discovered he was not working. Lucas was the one person who could get a particular geriatric patient with a mental disorder to do what was needed every time. He remained calm and direct in all situations without making patients feel inadequate. Lucas is a very compassionate and caring student nurse who touched the lives of many patients and staff on the floor.


Nellie Simon:  Carol Macnee Scholarship Award

Nellie Simon: Carol Macnee Scholarship Award

Nellie Simon is passionate that NPs learn about the most common endocrine disorder in reproductive-aged women: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. PCOS can result in significant cardiovascular, metabolic, and psychological consequences. In Simon’s DNP project, she assessed NP knowledge of PCOS, including assessment, diagnosis & management; and assessed whether continuing education seminars on PCOS are effective, increasing NP knowledge in clinical settings. She found significant increase in percentage of NPs knowing Rotterdam criteria for diagnosis, correct laboratory tests to order, correct treatments to initiate, and consequences of PCOS. NPs are critical to halting long term PCOS consequences. Simon’s work is timely and professional.


Cheryl Thomas: Professional Nurse Award

Cheryl Thomas: Professional Nurse Award

Cheryl Thomas was a follower after earning her ADN in Louisiana in 2003. She went to work and did what was expected. But after 13 years of nursing practice, she is now a leader, holding a charge nurse position on a 20-bed ICU, acting as relief house supervisor and certified in administering chemotherapy. In 2015 she won the RN/Nursing Team of the Year Award at Willis-Knighton Bossier Health Center. She is a preceptor, has management responsibilities, is an active member on several committees, and advocates not only for patients and families, but for her peers. Her positive attitude in online courses has earned respect from peers and instructors. A life-long learner, she is considering graduate school to become an FNP.



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