Commencement 2019 Prize Winners

Students at graduation
May 31, 2019

Yale School of Nursing (YSN) Commencement 2019 festivities including the announcement of prizes for faculty, staff, and students. The descriptions below have been lightly edited and condensed from the May 20 remarks. Unless otherwise noted, awards were presented by Dean Ann Kurth ’90 MSN, PHD, CNM, MPH, FAAN. Congratulations to all the recipients!

Annie Goodrich Award for Excellence in Teaching: Elizabeth Cohen PharmD, BCPS
Presented by Elizabeth Barrera ’19 MSN

Annie Goodrich, the founder and first dean of the Yale School of Nursing, was an outstanding nurse leader and educator whose vision set the course for nursing education. This faculty member carries on the tradition of nursing excellence she set forth.

Elizabeth Cohen exemplifies nursing excellence through her organization, attention to detail, and a clear dedication to evidence-based practice and nursing education. While teaching one of the most challenging courses in YSN’s master’s program, she’s demonstrated an awe-inspiring mastery of her subject. She’s a mentor, a colleague at YSN and at Yale New-Haven Hospital and is an invaluable team member in every capacity of which she serves.

D.A.I.S.Y. Faculty Award: Ami Marshall ’04 MSN, EdD, APRN

The Diseases Attacking the Immune System (D.A.I.S.Y.) Foundation was established in 1999 to honor J. Patrick Barnes, who died at 33 from the complications of Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). The excellent care he received during his illness inspired his family to honor the nursing community. This faculty award recognizes nursing faculty members for excellence in education and for their influence on their nursing students.

Ami Marshall is the backbone of the primary care department. Through teaching various seminars, clinical conferences and her involvement at HAVEN Free Clinic, she has clearly demonstrated a command of the breadth of primary care and has motivated many to be better clinicians. She has secured excellent speakers for primary care seminars and has created a robust, relevant and engaging curriculum. She has consistently provided evidenced based practice and as a result, students feel significantly more prepared to practice.

Yale School of Nursing Staff Appreciation Award: Sarah Zaino and Melanie Pagán
Presented by Student Government Organization (SGO) President Moya Meckel ’19 MSN

YSN staff are essential to the School’s everyday operations. They put in countless hours behind the scenes to provide a successful experience for students and faculty.  This awards honors staff who complete this important work with energy, enthusiasm, creativity and commitment.  The SGO determines the honors, and chose two recipients for recognition this year.

With over 35 years at YSN, Sarah Zaino has maintained professionalism and premium service to the faculty, staff, and students she works with. She goes above the expected activities, serving as a strategist, a cheerleader, a counselor, and a friend. With her deep expertise of grants processing, she consistently works to ensure everything goes perfectly. She stays on top of deadlines and is always willing to help. This staff member’s professional excellence has been an inspiration to everyone with whom she works.

Melanie Pagán has gone above and beyond to create a welcoming and inclusive space for YSN students. She coordinates numerous events and activities, supports student groups, and is genuinely a brightening presence on West Campus. In addition to her dedication to improving the culture and community of YSN, she is committed to connecting students to other Yale resources to ensure their holistic well-being.

YSN Community Service Award:  Jenny Ajl ’19 MSN, ’19 MPH
The YSN Community Service Award is presented to a student who has made outstanding contributions to the New Haven community in the delivery of health care or in their volunteer efforts. YSN students become leaders in nursing by excelling in their studies and clinical work, and their leadership skills are further honed through their involvement in the community.

Jenny Ajl is a brilliant example of how students find myriad ways to give back and contribute to the University and New Haven communities. She devotes much of her time to HAVEN Free Clinic, having served as the Executive Director of its Student Leadership board. She continually seeks opportunities to work with underserved communities, including pursuing clinical opportunities at Care for the Homeless Mobile Unit and LGBTQ Health. She is hard-working, enthusiastic, and dedicated to putting the needs of the community first.

Charles King, Jr. Memorial Scholars Aid Prize: Eli Stark ’19 MSN and Vanessa Correia ’19 MSN
This prize is given to the graduating student who has demonstrated outstanding performance in scholarship, research, and clinical practice and who has inspired an admiration for professional work. This year, the committee was tied with its selection and awarded the prize to two recipients.

Eli Stark arrived at YSN with a background in outreach and advocacy for the uninsured and working in nonprofits to support the incarcerated as they transition to freedom as returning citizens.  While at YSN, he continued to support the school’s mission of “better health for all” in his volunteer work serving on the Curriculum Committee. He made headway in translating to the faculty the importance of content that includes LGBTQI health care needs as well as being the voice of the students on a variety of important, current topics. He is a courageous, outspoken class member who often leads discussions on antiracism, gender-affirming therapy and HIV care integrated into the primary care setting. His scholarship includes presentations and publications addressing transgender care and racial disparities.  He will be remembered by faculty as “living the mission” of the Yale School of Nursing.

Vanessa Correia has demonstrated a passion for health justice throughout her time at YSN. Joining the US Health Justice Collaborative after taking the elective in GEPN year, she became its leader—an interdisciplinary and cross-school collaborative focused on improving relationships between Yale graduate students and the New Haven community as well as linking students to one another. She joined YSN’s Mental Health Task Force and created the YSN Peer Advocate program, which was later adopted by the Office of Student Affairs. She turned her interest in plant-based nutrition into a team to help integrate the evidence-based literature behind nutrition into a lecture series called “Nutrition That Heals,” the first of its kind at YSN. This work was recently honored by the Yale Office of Sustainability.

The Milton and Anne Sidney Prize: Michael Anthony Moore ’19 MSN
This prize is awarded to the graduating student who, in the judgment of the faculty, best exemplifies the School’s commitment to clinical research through systematic study of the nature and effect of nursing practice.

The recipient of the Prize must demonstrate creative clinical scholarship in the conceptualization of the problem under study, methodological and analytical competence, and excellence in writing. Above all, the study must be one that will make a difference in the delivery of nursing care for the recipients of that care.

Michael Anthony Moore has conducted an integrative review on the experience of gay, bisexual, and queer (GBQ) men who undergo treatment for prostate cancer. This review is forthcoming in a special issue on psycho-oncology in the European Journal of Cancer Care, a highly ranked journal. His research identifies that heteronormativity in the delivery of psychosocial care for men with prostate cancer not only creates disparities in outcomes, it also impedes GBQ men’s coping. He will be sharing his findings at the 2019 LGBT Health Workforce Conference and through a peer-reviewed article on needed policy changes in the Harvard Kennedy School’s LGBTQ Policy Journal (published online in April).

Connecticut Holistic Health Association Prize for Academic Excellence: Bridget Hutchens ’19 PHD
This prize is awarded to a deserving student demonstrating academic excellence in a holistically-oriented research or clinical project of significant social relevance. Scholarly endeavors in nursing that take a holistic perspective are exemplified by consideration of the person as whole — body, mind and spirit — within a social context.

Bridget Hutchens is an advocate for maternal wellness and mental health care. In her dissertation, she took a holistic view of the risk factors associated with postpartum depression, one of the most common complications of childbirth and one that can have great impact on the entire family. She is a board member for 2020 Mom — a national advocacy organization focused on improving maternal mental health care. She is especially interested in promoting routine screening during prenatal care and integrating mental health into pre- and post-natal care to help move towards recommended, more complete care.

Leadership in Nursing Practice Prize: Erin Iturriaga ’19 DSN
This prize recognizes a graduating Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the DNP project and best exemplifies the school’s mission as well as the school’s commitment to clinical practice by translating scientific evidence into nursing practice or health care policy.

Erin Iturriaga has addressed a need for a critically underserved population — older persons being released from jail. Currently there is no effective geriatric transitional health care process available. The recipient’s project was a multi-year development of an evidence-based, adaptive transitional care tool guided by Meleis’ transitions theory to improve access to medications for older persons upon release from jail. Using an evidence-based framework and conceptual model, she created an adaptive tool that can be used for a variety of incarceration release approaches.

Anthony DiGuida Delta Mu Prize: Susan Hunt ’19 DSN
Anthony would have been in the second graduating class of doctoral students at YSN; the prize that bears his name is given to a graduating doctoral student who demonstrates creative conceptualization of a complex clinical problem for study, methodologic and analytic excellence, and superb writing.

Susan Hunt best exemplifies the DNP program’s efforts to translate evidence into direct clinical practice. She met with several rural fire departments to teach content surrounding stroke mimics. Her goal is to train EMS personnel to assess patients with stroke-like symptoms using a tool that will help determine their transport destination based on the likelihood that the patient is having a real stroke or a stroke mimic.  Susan’s genuine commitment to translating evidence into practice to improve health outcomes is exemplary.