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Students Dream of Nursing Career Now a Reality


Posted: 7/6/2010

Six students from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) are now able to pursue a career in nursing with the help of a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)/American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Grant, combined with monies from the JHUSON, will provide at least $20,000 to six accelerated baccalaureate students who have come from a variety of economic and social backgrounds.

Aitalohi Amaize has done extensive work with the homeless in Boston, worked in women’s health clinics in New York City, and with the poor in the Philippines. The NCIN grant will help her reach her goal to combine a career in nursing and public health to “change policy…the status quo, and…our collective imagination of what is possible, both here and abroad.” Amaize was raised in Taiwan, the daughter of a Nigerian father and a Chinese mother. A 2007 graduate of Princeton University, she works as a program assistant for the Johns Hopkins Student Outreach Resource Center (SOURCE) organization. Amaize is also completing a master’s in public health at the Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

As a Haitian-American, Lucine Petit Francis has a desire to become “an academic nurse with the dual responsibility of teaching and engaging in exciting scientific research, especially in the area of cardiovascular health.” With the help of the NCIN grant, Francis will be able to build relationships with JHUSON faculty and researchers who are interested in health disparities and cardiovascular health. She is a 2004 graduate of Smith College with a degree in neuroscience. Francis has participated in research studies in asthma, childhood obesity, breast cancer, and diabetes.

For Jessie Fuentes, the NCIN grant addresses one of the biggest obstacles for minorities: affordability of education. Born in Honduras, she believes the grant will enable her to use her Hispanic heritage to nurture future generations of Hispanic nursing leaders. Fuentes completed a BS degree in biology at Appalachian State University.

A native of Ethiopia, born “in a forest during a civil war” during which her parents were fleeing the country, Rahwa Gessese knows first-hand the importance of adequate healthcare for the less fortunate. The NCIN will help Gessese to “practice nursing globally, where healthcare workers are most needed, to develop and work on research, and to inspire people like me who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.” A 2008 graduate of Seattle University with a degree in biology, she has had significant healthcare experience in the area of HIV/AIDS both here in the U.S. and in Ethiopia.

Bridging the two worlds of Africa and the U.S. is the desire of Katrina Harston. She states that she is “motivated by the hardship and desperation that I have seen in the past nine years,” and with the help of the NCIN grant, Harston would like to focus on reproductive health. Harston earned a linguistics degree from Rice University in 2000 and an MPH from George Washington University in 2006. After completing her master’s degree, Harston has worked on several projects benefiting the women and children of Liberia, Malawi, and Sudan.

Becoming a nursing leader in patient care for America’s seniors is the goal of Kyle Jensen. For two and a half years, he has worked as a policy advocate at the Alliance for Aging Research. The NCIN grant will provide mentorship and leadership development while exposing Jensen to important clinical and faculty leaders in the area of geriatrics. A 2007 graduate of Clemson University with a BA in philosophy, he hopes to advance healthy aging by transforming the care given to the nation’s geriatric population.

“These are a group of stellar students who bring their own unique backgrounds to the JHUSON,” said associate dean for student affairs Sandra Angell. “Each one of them has so much to contribute to the nursing field, and these scholarships will help them bring those contributions to fruition.”