Released on April 19, 2024

Thanks to philanthropic generosity and a hometown advantage, more than 60 UCF students gained valuable skills to unleash potential as future Knight nurses at the 2024 convention where the Orlando chapter earned the top honor once again.

Student Nurses' Association at UCF Orlando board members and faculty advisers stand with NSNA Stellar Chapter plaque inside a ballroom
Student Nurses’ Association at UCF Orlando members and faculty advisors with the Stellar Chapter designation plaque at the NSNA 2024 Convention.

UCF College of Nursing students shined bright earlier this month at the annual National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) convention held this year in Orlando, Florida. The hometown location provided an opportunity for more students to attend.

A group of UCF at Daytona students at the NSNA 2024 Convention

Thanks to donor support of the Student Success Fund, a funding priority in UCF’s 2024 Day of Giving, the College of Nursing was able to pay registration fees for nearly all of the 60 nursing students to attend the invaluable learning and networking opportunity.

“Without donor support, we would have to rely solely on our chapter fundraising efforts to afford the cost of attending events like NSNA Convention,” said senior Jamielyn Lanza, president of the Student Nurses’ Association (SNA) at UCF Orlando.

Student attendees represented all three campuses — Orlando, Daytona, and Cocoa, and included junior and senior students from five cohorts including the accelerated second degree BSN and ASN to BSN concurrent programs.

“Senior year has come with a lot of expenses, so having the burden taken off of paying for the convention was so helpful and allowed me to enjoy the experience more,” said senior Daytona student Gianna Rivera.

“The gracious giving of our donors means greater guidance towards a better future with better equipped nursing students and even better knight nurses,” added junior Jenna Koo, legislative director elect at SNA at UCF Orlando.

Top Chapter Once Again

The top highlight for the SNA at UCF Orlando chapter was earning the top honor at the national convention. The chapter received the five-year Stellar Chapter designation for the second time in a row — the chapter has also received the state association’s top honor three years in a row. Only approximately five percent of the 755 student nurses’ association chapters in the U.S. and its territories have achieved the Stellar Chapter designation.

“The Stellar Chapter honor takes the work of many over a long period of time, with objective proof of the level of engagement your chapter maintains,” said Instructor Kate Dorminy ’06BSN,’10MSN, SNA at UCF Orlando faculty co-advisor.

The Stellar Chapter re-designation recognizes the student organization’s continued success and commitment to shared governance and professional development of nursing students and faculty.

“Over the last several years, our students have achieved unprecedented success,” said Assistant Professor Brian Peach, SNA at UCF Orlando faculty co-advisor. “None of the awards and other successes would be possible without the support of the college administration, faculty and staff, and our generous supporters.”

The chapter has also received national and state awards for recruitment, its newsletter, website and social media. In addition, several junior and senior UCF students were inducted into the NSNA’s LeadershipU Honor Society and senior Samantha Garcia, SNA at UCF Orlando treasurer, received the 2024 Pit Recruiter Award for recruiting the most members of any other NSNA member in the nation.

Unprecedented Participation

“We easily had the largest Florida delegation at this year’s NSNA convention,” added Peach. It was also the largest delegation from UCF in its history of sending students to the convention.

Four students wearing UCF College of Nursing polos and convention badges stand
Makalah Pierre (second from left) and Aiden Hughey (far right) with other members of SNA at UCF Cocoa at the 2024 NSNA Convention.

In addition to 26 students from Orlando, 20 junior and senior nursing students from both UCF Cocoa and Daytona attended the local event.

Among the attendees from UCF Cocoa was junior Makalah Pierre. “I would not have been able to attend the conference if not for UCF sponsoring me. It shows the great efforts that UCF makes to ensure that their students have access to opportunities that will help us excel in our careers.”

The annual convention provides students with opportunities to network with and learn from other nursing students, faculty and professionals from across the U.S.

“Getting to hear from a multitude of nurses who have worked in the field for years with all different types of jobs is something that you will not get to do anywhere else,” said senior Daytona student Allison Nassar. “I am truly grateful that I was given the opportunity to go as I do believe convention has shaped my future career as a nurse.”

Educational sessions covered nursing specialties like emergency, oncology and pediatrics, and topics such as NCLEX preparation, building strong preceptor relationships, engaging as a future professional and more.

“The most memorable moment for me was the seizure first aid workshop,” said Pierre. “A very dear friend of mine struggles with epilepsy, so it was very important to me that I understood what to do when someone was suspected of having a seizure. The information was phenomenal and I gained so much knowledge. When the workshop concluded, I completed a quiz and earned a seizure first aid certificate.”

Sessions were both educational and inspirational. “I learned the importance and impact of serving on boards to provide a nursing perspective on policy and advocacy,” said Lanza who left inspired to serve on boards after graduation in May. “It made me realize that my voice as a young nurse matters, and it is possible to start making a difference in people’s lives from the very beginning of my career.”

SNA at UCF Orlando delegates, including Jenna Koo (center) and Jamielyn Lanza (right)

In addition to networking and learning, students also had the opportunity to get involved nationally and voice opinions as a member of the NSNA House of Delegates. Junior Jenna Koo from Orlando was one of the UCF delegates, responsible for electing officers for the national board and committees as well as voting on real-world issues in resolutions that influence the profession and patient outcomes. “I felt as if I was able to help make a difference, even if it was a very small one.”

For senior UCF Cocoa nursing student Aiden Hughey, the experience was beneficial and memorable in other ways.

 “To me, a senior nursing student who is eagerly waiting to graduate, the convention was highly beneficial in exposing me to not only opportunities for employment, but also opportunities to advance my education and career as a nurse,” said Hughey. “I also enjoyed just simply being with my cohort, walking through the exhibit hall, reminiscing on our time in the nursing program, talking about life, our plans, and our appreciation for what UCF has done for us.”

“Truthfully, I won’t ever forget these moments as they were the last memories of an amazing journey here at UCF and the philanthropic giving has made me even more proud to be a Knight nurse.”

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