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Nine students in the “Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing” program enjoyed the opportunity to see inspirational nurse leaders receive Nursing Excellence awards from the New England Regional Black Nurses Association (NERBNA). The banquet, also attended by ten CSON faculty members, was held at the Boston Copley Marriott hotel on February 6, 2015. The keynote speaker, Marcia I. Wells Avery, reflected on her career and shared her story about overcoming obstacles to success. The dinner was preceded by a reception, where students got the opportunity to network with nurse leaders from clinical practice, research, and academia. KILN students Patience Marks and Chiamaka Okorie shared their reflections on the event:

By S. Chiamaka Okorie, CSON ’17,
On February 6th, 2015, I attended the NERBNA Excellence in Nursing Awards. In the keynote speech, Ms. Marcia Wells Avery quoted ballerina Misty Copeland: “You can start late, be unsure, look different, and still succeed.” In the middle of my first year of transferring into Connell School of Nursing and still unsure about how I can accomplish my dreams, it was amazing to hear these words. I registered to attend this event in hopes of advice but I received more inspiration than I hoped for.

Each award recipient shared their story, obstacles, and faith and thanked families and teams for supporting them along the way. While some had recently begun their nursing journey, others had changed careers late in their life, and some had dedicated their life to nursing. Each nurse reminded me that excellence is a journey and mindset. As a Nigerian-American student, it was also very empowering to witness the honoring of Black nurses and glimpse the wonderful Black nursing community.

I also had the pleasure of sitting amongst Dean Susan Gennaro and Professors William Fehder, Viola Benavente, and Allyssa Harris. As we talked about their families and experience in nursing, I was again reminded of how blessed I feel to be part of the CSON community. I knew that these faculty members want to see the best for their students and help us achieve our own excellence.

I would absolutely recommend this experience to any student or faculty. It is always a gift to hear from nurses who embody excellence, faith, and hard work; it renews our mission as nurses.

By Patience Marks, CSON ‘15
I was beyond grateful for the chance to be present at such an inspirational and motivating event. The most exciting part for me was the keynote speaker, Dr. Marcia I. Wells Avery, and her lessons from the “story of the unlikely ballerina.” Emphasized by Dr. Avery was the idea of achieving beyond the “-ism” and not being dissuaded by bigotry, prejudice, and disbelievers. Being an individual within a triple minority (an immigrant, African-American, and a woman) this idea resonated with me because I am no stranger to the trials and tribulations of society. I’ve sometimes gotten to a point where giving up sometimes seemed more of an option than continuing to fight and push forward. As a developing professional and student nurse, I’ve encountered many situations academically, clinically, and socially that caused me to use the word “can’t,” allowing me to believe that I “couldn’t.” Dr. Avery’s speech touched my heart and allowed me to see the “can” in every impossibility and the “will do” in every possibility, which I will forever appreciate and remember. As she stated in the end, like the story of the unlikely ballerina, you can always “start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed.” I plan to take this inspiration with me in my path as a nurse and beyond.