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UW Marcia Dale Aspire Scholars Attend National Nurses Conference

April 4, 2018
Kelsey Fullerton, Paige Leonard, Lauren Mochowski and Sara Pepper

Four University of Wyoming nursing students -- all Marcia Dale Aspire Scholars -- recently attended the American Nurses Association (ANA) Quality and Innovation Conference in Florida.

Paige Leonard and Sara Pepper, both of Highlands Ranch, Colo.; Lauren Mochowski, from Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Kelsey Fullerton, of Blue Springs, Mo., attended the conference March 21-23 in Orlando, Fla. The conference provided the four senior nursing students an opportunity to see cutting-edge research occurring around the country, and a chance to network with nurses conducting the research.

“It was so powerful to sit in a large conference room and look around at everyone who came,” Leonard says. “Nursing is such a unique profession and, yet, such a tight community. Attending the conference made me realize how excited I am to be a nurse."

In collaboration with the UW College of Health Sciences' "Aspire" program, the UW Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing developed Nursing Aspire to encourage, promote and nurture scholarship, leadership and professionalism in future nurses.

In 2013, Nursing Aspire was renamed the Marcia Dale Aspire Scholars Program in honor of Dale, former School of Nursing dean, who was dedicated to undergraduate nursing education. The Marcia Dale Aspire Scholars Program starts in the second semester of a freshman student’s first year and continues throughout the four years of the undergraduate program.

Fullerton says meeting so many nurses during the conference provided her with great inspiration.

“Seeing their passion and hearing about their research made me excited for my career,” she says. “Each nurse had their area of expertise, showing how vast the opportunities are in nursing.”

Pepper concurs.

“What inspired me most at the conference was all the networking opportunities,” Pepper says. “We were able to meet very influential nurses from all across the country. It was incredible to converse with them about our future plans and have them be so supportive of our dreams.”

Before leaving for the conference, Mochowski says she was feeling stressed about her future. However, networking with so many professional nurses put her at ease and reinvigorated her love of nursing.

“The conference was God-sent. I left feeling emboldened in my postgraduate life and at peace with the journey that is in play,” Mochowski says. “It is humbling to sit in a room with thousands of nurses and hear about their incredible achievements. To an even greater degree, it gives me confidence to know that each of them has been in our shoes before -- a student, hopeful and anxious about entering as a professional nurse. I am excited to return to this semester's nursing capstone course and finish out the semester strong with the knowledge I have gained from this conference.”

Marcia Dale Aspire Scholars participate in interprofessional development activities; serve as school ambassadors; and participate in scholarly projects. Benefits include professional growth, and development of leadership, communications and collaboration skills.

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