On September 18-20, KILN students and mentors attended the Sigma Theta Tau International Leadership Connection conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kathryn Free ’17 and Elizabeth (Lizzy) Byrne ’17 presented posters featuring research conducted with faculty mentors Stewart Bond and Judith Vessey. KILN director and mentor Catherine Read presented a podium session (co-authored by Debra Pino Betancourt) entitled “Preparing Nursing Students as Leaders for Social Change.”

Kathryn and Elizabeth offered their reflections on the experience:

Kathryn Free (’17) with her research poster

Attending Sigma’s Leadership Connection Conference and presenting the work I have done as an Undergraduate Research Fellow was an incredible experience. It was my first nursing conference and the first time I presented this research. When I began the literature review last fall, I never imagined myself presenting it in front of individuals. As a research fellow, it was wonderful seeing my hard work come to fruition. The best part of the conference was connecting to nurses that were interested in and impacted by my work. I spoke to many oncology nurses who kept in touch with former patients. These nurses were interested in seeing if what I learned about frailty in older cancer survivors was similar to their knowledge.

The Sigma Conference warmly welcomed undergraduate nursing students. Everyone I met was eager to learn about my research presentation. As I continue my work as an undergraduate research fellow, I will always remember connecting with the oncology nurses that found great value in my research endeavors.

– Kathryn Free

Elizabeth Byrne ’17 discusses her research poster with STTI President Cathy Catrambone

I had the opportunity to present my research project entitled “The Technological Age: Parent Knowledge and Use of Social Media Apps.” In this project, which will also be the subject of my senior thesis, I will be analyzing parents’ knowledge and use of social media and how that affects their knowledge and perceptions of cyberbullying. I decided on this topic because of my work as an undergraduate research fellow and my years of working at an elementary school. Both of these settings prompted me to look deeper into the connection between parents’ use of social media and their knowledge of cyberbullying. The research data will be obtained via an electronic survey. Presenting this information at the conference helped me focus my research. I received feedback from other presenters and conference attendees that will aid in improving my survey, such as possible questions to include, the potentially wide range of parental age, and the limitation associated with an electronic survey because it will require basic technological skills.

In addition to further developing my own research, the conference allowed me to learn about evidenced-based research in many areas of nursing, including stethoscope hygiene, improving nursing collaboration, and postpartum depression rates in mothers in two different age groups. The variety of the topics was by far my favorite aspect of the conference. I felt like each poster was interesting and pertinent to my nursing education. By attending this conference, I feel as though I will be a better nurse as well as a better researcher. Additionally, I was also able to discuss graduate school with many of the attendees, which gave me a better sense of what I want to pursue after graduation this May. The majority of the attendees and presenters were full time nurses who had received masters or doctoral degrees; this made me acutely aware of what a great honor and privilege it is to be one of a limited number of undergraduates presenting at the conference.

– Elizabeth Byrne

The students and mentors are grateful for the funding from the Coca-Cola and Price Family Foundations that made this experience possible.