After earning their degree from the UCF College of Nursing, Knight nurses “Charge On!” and change lives in the communities that they serve.

The annual Outstanding Knight Nurse Award program recognizes UCF College of Nursing alumni who are shining bright as distinguished leaders and making valuable contributions in their field.

Previous awardees: 2023 | 2022 | 2021 (40th Anniversary)


2024 Outstanding Knight Nurse Awardees

Educator Award on yellow graphic banner


Recognizes nursing educators and/or faculty for sharing knowledge, creating and cultivating an environment that supports life-long learning, using innovative teaching strategies, utilizing evidence-based practice in clinical areas, and focusing on scholarly research and dissemination within clinical settings.

Melissa Radecki holding a crystal UCF Alumni award in front of a UCF College of Nursing banner

Melissa Radecki ’10BSN, ’12MSN, PhD, RN

An educator for more than two decades, Melissa Radecki is currently director for the traditional BSN and second-degree BSN programs at UCF College of Nursing which encompasses three Central Florida campuses and approximately 500 students. In that role, she has fostered an inclusive and enriching learning environment, championed student success and innovation, and exemplified academic excellence. Radecki is an expert on curriculum and instructional design, which she has leveraged to enhance curriculum to reflect advancements in the profession and is a nationally recognized expert on NCLEX preparation and Generation NCLEX. Under her leadership, UCF continues to exceed national averages on the first-time pass rates of the national registered nurse licensing exam. As an outstanding Knight nurse educator, Radecki embodies passion, dedication, and commitment to excellence to ensure students unleash their full potential as Knight nurses.


Recognizes nurses for outstanding leadership, mentorship, and professionalism while creating an environment that fosters compassionate care and inspires nurses to strive for excellence.

Jayne Willis holding a crystal UCF Alumni award in front of a UCF College of Nursing banner

Jayne Willis ’20DNP, RN, NEA-BC, CENP

In her four-decades and counting in the nursing profession, Jayne Willis has not only served at the highest leadership level but also has mentored countless nurse leaders. She is a prior vice president and chief nurse executive at Orlando Health, where she led thousands of nurses and directed the nursing strategic plan. Today, Willis is following her passion to develop future nurse leaders by sharing her industry knowledge to educate graduate students in the nurse executive doctoral program at UCF. In addition, she is an active leader in the community, a member of several nursing leadership organizations, and serves as a nursing leadership coach to support nursing leaders across the U.S. By shining bright as a Knight nurse leader, Willis has made an impact on nursing in our community and will continue to lead by example to inspire future generations.


Recognizes nurses across practice levels and sites for clinical excellence, superior skills, and providing high quality, compassionate care.

Lisamarie Tai holding a crystal UCF Alumni award in front of a UCF College of Nursing banner

Lisamarie Tai ’13BSN, RN-BC

From her start in the profession as a graduate nurse, Lisamarie Tai demonstrated a strong commitment to nursing excellence and patient care. That commitment has propelled Tai to advance in her practice, from preceptor to mentor to charge nurse and now assistant nurse operations manager at Orlando Health South Seminole. She navigates challenges with professionalism and a calm demeanor. During the pandemic, she was one of the first nurses on her unit to care for a COVID-19 positive patient and remains focused on creating a positive, safe environment. Her unwavering devotion to her team, her patients and the families she serves has helped her unit earn a silver Beacon Award, Joint Accreditation, and patient satisfaction awards. Through compassionate care and clinical excellence, Tai is a shining example of what it means to practice as a Knight nurse.


Recognizes nurses for participation in local, national, or global volunteer work, community outreach activities, and military service that promotes global health and addresses disparities.

Catherine Haskins-Kiefer holding a crystal UCF Alumni award in front of a UCF College of Nursing banner

Catherine Haskins-Kiefer ’91BSN, ’10MSN, RN, NE-BC

Catherine Haskins-Keifer is a leader at AdventHealth where she supports practices that prioritize patient safety, evidence-based, quality care, and healthy work environments. Her heart for healing extends beyond the healthcare system. She volunteers most of her free time at Zen Dogs Therapy Network, a Central Florida Network of certified therapy dogs and volunteer handlers. With her four-legged companion, Haskins-Kiefer visits people in need of comfort in hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, and first responder locations. In addition to bringing joy to those who need it, Haskins-Kiefer and her canine companions are active in the community and support local fundraisers such as Orland Out of the Darkness Walk and Walk for a Cure for Children’s Cancer. Through her acts of service, Haskins-Keifer shows compassion to others and demonstrates to our community what it means to be a Knight nurse.


Recognizes nurses for elevating the profession to new and extraordinary heights by using unique skillsets to implement creative or entrepreneurial ideas that advance nursing beyond the bedside.

Gladys Dushane holding a crystal UCF Alumni award in front of a UCF College of Nursing banner

Gladys M. Dushane ’16MSN, RN, CMSRN

What makes Dushane extraordinary is not only her commitment to patient care, but her ability to navigate intricate challenges at the bedside with leadership, ingenuity and innovation. Under her tenure as director of medical surgical services at HCA, she has driven positive change — improving clinical outcomes as well as patient and staff satisfaction. She is not only a leader at HCA, but in the community and actively collaborates with community organizations to advocate for the needs of her patients and families as well as to advance health equity initiatives. Dushane will continue to “Charge On” to make a positive impact on both the profession and the health of her community in her new role as assistant chief nurse officer at HCA Lake Monroe.