I joined ten other Connell School of Nursing (CSON) undergraduates for a weekend leadership retreat at the Connors Family Retreat Center starting on Friday, September 21. The retreat was lead by CSON Professors Drs. Judith Vessey and Viola Benavente, and Captain Annette Debisette who currently serves as the National Training Officer/Team Leader for Medical Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Division of Human Resource Development, Regulatory and Science Team. Prior to holding this position, Dr. Debisette also held senior leadership positions in the Division of Nursing, Bureau of Health Professions, Health and Resources Services Administration. Our three nurse mentors coordinated the Training for Advance Leadership in KILN (T.A.L.K) retreat so that we would have the opportunity to discuss the qualities of leadership, benefit from a supportive environment, and confidently pursue our dreams and goals. Overall, Drs. Vessey, Benavente, and Debisette provided us a weekend of self-reflection, which allowed us to recognize our ability to lead. Throughout the training, the take-home message was clear and simple—a nurse needs to be adaptive and creative by acknowledging his/her unique qualities and elevating them to a new level.
Far from Boston College’s enclosed lecture halls, the open yet intimate atmosphere at the retreat center created a suitable environment to converse about life, career goals, and accomplishments. On the first night, the three mentors openly shared their career trajectory. Consciously, they did not just share their career successes but they also gave us a dose of reality. There were times when they pursued a dream that was pushed back due to family responsibilities or was self-terminated for greater interests. The “trial and error” process was a common ground among these three mentors. A career in nursing was not described to be a straight path, but a path that was sometimes enigmatic and winding. However, all agreed that seizing every opportunity and having the willingness to take risks have made them satisfied with who they are today and the leaders they have become.
Furthermore, I felt a new sense of awe and reverence for nursing, because it was inspirational how each of the mentors’ distinctive paths had brought them together in the present day. Although Drs. Vessey, Benavente, and Debisette separately pursued their interests in nursing and held leadership positions in different locations, they remained committed and unified within the nursing community. Their mastery in the art of nursing leadership has motivated me to become a leader as I etch my individual path in nursing. For now, I believe that my time at Boston College will allow me to become a nurse leader who commits herself to be a good steward in this society. Combining what I learned at the retreat and the ideology behind men and women for others, I want to maintain a foresight on the significance in life, instead of getting easily caught up in a busy schedule. Essentially, one of my goals for the next three years as a developing nurse leader will be to remember these three words— pay it forward. By the end of the weekend, the T.A.L.K. retreat has brought out my self-assurance to be a future nurse leader.