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Nurse Scholarship Winners
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Congratulations to our 2019 Winner of the TONL Scholarship for Advanced Nursing Leadership Degrees

Jessica Wolff - picJennifer Wolff

The American Nurses Association (2019) has estimated an alarming and ever rising number of seasoned nurses leaving the work force within the next three years, calling for organizations to reface and reframe their retention and recruitment strategies to prevent turnover and vacancies. I myself, as a nurse leader, am faced with this alarming fact, not just a statistic, the challenge very palpable, in my current workforce, it is essential that I take the opportunity to assist in developing strategies and innovative means of combatting staffing issues that keep most nursing leaders awake at night.

In my academic endeavors of pursuing my Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) I feel that I have gained knowledge and thru shared educational endowments have catapulted the manner in which I integrate scientific knowledge from nursing and other disciplines for further development, evaluation, and the delivery approach of care. Continued academic growth has offered me invaluable leadership knowledge and skill that has been gained through the collaboration of interdisciplinary teams, and development of a worthy scholarly project and DNP curriculum. I hope to make positive and meaningful impression impacting nursing engagement, meaningful work, and ultimately increasing patient satisfaction coupled by improved empirical patient outcomes in the organization and community in which I serve.

Personal achievement of the DNP signifies another hallmark moment, but yet another stepping stone in validating the importance of advocating for professional nursing practice, transdisciplinary collaboration, and modern reform of healthcare in every respect. Role modeling the way, practicing professional humility and integrity, and achievement of the DNP, will build upon the foundation and platform that has been laid before me to further include myself in an ever-growing commitment to proving the value of NURSING!



Click on each year below to reveal the list of previous winners.

Kit Bredimus - picKit Bredimus

After graduation, I plan to continue with my DNP project and expand the program beyond the organization and the community. Mental health training can make a significant difference for those exposed to people living with mental health problems or crises. I plan to train my department and study the impact on competency, then expand out to every department and employee in the hospital. I will then take this training to local EMS, PD, and first responders. Finally, I want to take it to the schools, churches, and groups in the community that would be willing to lend some space for training. It is my vision that our community is fully engaged and equipped to intervene with someone experiencing a mental health problem and be confident that they can make the difference between life and death.

On a professional level, I see this project helping nursing in addressing the lack of formal training in dealing with co-morbid mental health issues in the hospital, but also in the workplace. Nurses are four times more likely to commit suicide than people working outside of medicine. This statistic is alarming and highlights the fact that not only do we need to increase our knowledge of mental health, but also start confronting the stigma and barriers to treatment. Through my DNP studies, I have learned how to be a more effective communicator and leader. I am learning the skills now that are needed to address this issue on a national and global level, making mental health treatment as accessible and acceptable as any other medical condition. Furthermore, as I continue my involvement in professional organizations, I would like to help elevate the profession of nursing through engagement and activism. There are over 4 million nurses in the U.S., yet we as a profession struggle to get meaningful change passed through state and federal levels. I would like to see this changed through grassroots campaigns and nursing activism, which first starts with a shared vision and goal. As nursing leaders, it is our duty to propel the profession forward while keeping the needs of our patients central to our mission.

Finally, on a local level, I feel I must promote the profession of nursing and mentor others into the profession. I feel that having an advanced nursing education means that it is incumbent on me to role model professional nursing and to inspire others to pursue nursing careers. Nursing shortages are not a new concern, but creative partnerships will be needed to address the gap. I plan on focusing my efforts on not only local community colleges and vocational programs, but starting with high school and junior high students to expose them to the pathways to nursing. I also have a special interest in promoting nursing among men, which is still much underrepresented in the profession. The drive to increase men in nursing will require positive role models and education to reduce the longstanding stigma associated with male nurses.

Victoria England - picVictoria England

Once a complete my Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), my plan is to continue to work in my executive leadership role at the system level of the hospital and clinics, using the tools I have learned and strengthen to help positively impact the community I live and work. Role molding for the many nurses I work with and support in professional practice.

I have been working towards moving nurses in to faculty position at my current organization, this large academic medical center, has been resistant to this move. With my DNP in hand I will complete the work I have put forth to date in having nurses move into faculty positions within the organization. This will help with we are setting up nurse led and nurse practice research for our IRB we have to have faculty assigned. By nurses being faculty this will move this process out of the way as a barrier.

The work I have done within my DNP program has emphasized clinical practice oriented leadership and has made me a better leader. With focusing largely on extending my leadership knowledge to further my current research skills and analytical thought process. While improving the health care system, and nurses. Plus it will be really cool for my husband to call me Dr England.

Rebecca Geist - picRebecca Geist

I have been a registered nurse for 32 years. During these years, my passion for community and public health along with opportunities have developed in my role as a volunteer in both my community of Lubbock and my professional role as a faculty at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing in the Non-Traditional (Second Degree, Veteran to BSN and RN to BSN) programs. By completing the DNP, I see great potential for leadership for the main campus and the six distance campuses throughout the state of Texas.

As a professional with an array of experiences, I have developed skills to be able to work well with other disciplines, am a highly organized individual and have learned stress management skills. I am very dependable and I am a leader. By obtaining my DNP, I will add more to my university by offering a wide range of personal experience and new knowledge to our students and faculty.

As I continue my education in the DNP program, I will continue my journey in education not only for myself but also for students, patients, and community members. I am looking forward to the flexibility, the wide variation, and potential with my degree. Earning a DNP will award me great opportunities in health care delivery, policies, my leadership, and education.

Jessica Wolff - picJessica Wolff

As a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) prepared Professional Nurse upon graduation, I feel that this academic knowledge gained will assist me in integrating scientific knowledge from nursing and other disciplines for further development, evaluation, and the delivery approach of care, provided in multiple heath care environments and expanding to diverse populations. The leadership knowledge and skill gained with the collaboration of interdisciplinary teams, completion of the scholarly project and DNP curriculum, will assist further in improving empirical patient outcomes within the health organization and community. Driving down Harm to Zero and impacting the lives of many. I look forward to building more astute skill in utilizing analytic methods to further critically appraise literature and evidence to determine, implement, and disseminate best practice evidence to lead changes impacting care at the bedside and within the organization. For example, creating a standardized process for patient handover, according to the World Health Organization’s High Five campaign (2016), clinical handover was one of the five target areas in improving patient safety. Leading into this example, would be the use of the knowledge gained from completion of the DNP program to further allow application of systems technology and resources to implement quality improvement initiatives and support further decision making both within the administrative realm and clinical practice.

Achieving the DNP signifies the importance of advocating for professional nursing practice, transdisciplinary collaboration, and turning concepts into reality at the bedside supported by evidenced based practice. Leading by example, practicing professional humility, and the drive to forever grow both professionally and personally, the DNP, will create a great foundation and platform for further impact in this distinguished profession we are honored to pledge to: I am a NURSE.

Jerry Gonzalez - pic Jerry Gonzalez

The pursuit of my Masters in Nursing came after self-reflection evaluating my role within nursing and my community. While there was never a question regarding my graduate studies, the intent and focus of my degree was a reason for deliberate reflection. Whether I had chosen an MBA versus the MSN, my continued education will directly affect those I serve. I currently work in an underprivileged area and many of those I interact with are below the national poverty line. My graduate studies' project will focus on closing the healthcare disparities that currently exist within my community by implementing a wellness program that examines adherence to diabetic medication regimes and the incident of re-hospitalization in newly diagnosed diabetes mellitus type 2 patients. I hope that my work will impact the prevalent diabetic population within El Paso restoring health and wellness while also impacting the bottom line for the organization at which I work. Together, we can all make a difference, one day and one patient at a time.

Morgan Talley - picMorgan Talley

Education has become highly important to me, especially as I have matured in my professional and leadership career. With this, obtaining my Master's Degree from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center has benefited me both personally and professionally in ways more than I could have ever imagined. The sense of accomplishment is truly remarkable, especially when life and work continued without slowing down. Professionally, I was able to promote into a Director position and can honestly attest to a more educated thinking process within my department. In addition, my commitment to professional organizations continues to grow and I look forward to ongoing participation with various events. In fact, I was recently elected President-elect of our San Antonio Chapter of the American Association of Critical-care Nurses. I am very fortunate to have been selected to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center again for my Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree. I have long term goals to move into Senior Leadership, which possibly includes a Chief Nursing Officer or Chief Nursing Executive position. In addition, I'm passionate about giving back to those who mentored and gave to me by one day entering the Academic field. To me personally, it is important to continue the legacy of nursing by spreading my knowledge to our future.

Jessica White-Kiehle - picJessica White-Kiehle

I have many hopes and dreams to fulfill after graduation! My education has inspired me to make a difference, and make it now! First, I want to begin teaching. I want to impact as many new nursing leaders as I can by helping to shape them as new nursing leaders with a focus on servant leadership and growing new leaders. I concurrently plan to begin working in health advocacy to improve the health of our communities and nation. I have big dreams. I want to make a difference in how we lead and care for the health of our populations. I have already started writing a motivational book for nursing leaders and hope to publish this work when complete using it to kick off becoming a motivational speaker impacting as many nurses and people as I can reach. I will create an online presence and begin a blog to communicate and create a dialogue with as many nurses and people as I can to increase topical awareness and advocate for our population health.

Haley De La Garza

I have and will continue to use my nursing education to improve the lives of others. Attaining a doctoral education will allow me to be an advance practice nurse, educate future nurses, and provide a unique leadership perspective for addressing healthcare delivery in a rapidly changing environment. My passion for practice is unwavering and I foresee anesthesia care as a foundation in my life after graduation. Direct patient care is very rewarding to me. There is nothing more gratifying than caring for another person in their time of need. Patient care involves skills, communication, and most importantly, education. The education of patients, healthcare professionals, and nurses is crucial to the continuously changing healthcare environment. I plan to pursue a professional teaching position in addition to practice. To me, there is no better way to contribute to the nursing profession than to be a leader in the education of our future nurses. The entire reason I chose to pursue a doctoral education was to learn how to research, analyze, and assess healthcare delivery while gaining the skills I need to become a leader in the profession. The education I am currently receiving will allow me the opportunity to have a lasting impact on the nursing profession. I have ideas for research, teaching methods, and patient care, but I know these will evolve over the course of my education and career. The only certainty for my future is that I will continue to dedicate my life to helping others and advancing the profession of nursing. I firmly believe in servant leadership and the best example of that is the nursing profession. Nursing benefits from people driven to serve others. I have that drive. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to practice, teach, lead, and substantially contribute to nursing practice during my lifetime. I sincerely hope my efforts will benefit the entire nursing community, the future of our profession, and the patients we serve.

Dawn Kineman

After completion of the program I will possess the skills necessary to assume an academic leadership role in the school of nursing such as department director, coordinator, or associate dean. I would like to develop an innovative program targeting select populations similar to the community, rural, and global health departments in the School of Medicine. I thoroughly enjoy educating nursing students, and I strive to provide didactic in very innovative ways that address all styles of learning. I have facilitated multiple courses over the past 7 years. Last year I received promotion to Assistant Professor and I continue to facilitate courses. For the past 5 years, I have facilitated a pathophysiology course delivered online at Texas Tech University. My professional experience combined with a doctoral degree in executive leadership will expand my knowledge and prepare me to further conduct studies in specialty areas of nursing and present findings to the students in a very innovative way, enlarge my circle of influence in the community, and improve overall patient health and wellbeing.

William Walker

I believe that the best way to benefit nursing is by being an example that others can follow. I am excited to be on this journey of becoming a DNP, and as I continue to be successful, my success serves an example for other nurses to follow. I will continue to be an example because the DNP program provides advanced competencies and skills to practice and provide leadership within the complex healthcare environment. Health care systems are evolving at an ever increasing rate, and DNP leaders are equipped to navigate those changes. Through my DNP education I am preparing to promote quality, safety, access to healthcare, and improving population health through innovative ideas and interprofessional collaboration. As a DNP leader, I will provide an atmosphere where interprofessional collaboration can thrive so that innovation will occur while incorporating nursing research and evidenced-based practice. I believe this role is essential as nursing continues to learn how to navigate health care change. Health care is moving toward engaging the full continuum of care that begins with the promotion of health through the transition to a peaceful end. This focus is pushing health care to think in ways that are beyond the four walls of the hospital and into our communities. As the Executive Director of Texas EMS and a future DNP leader, I believe that I am uniquely situated to promote and engage the public and hospital leadership in a way that promotes nursing and provides safety, efficiency, and quality care for the population we serve. As I continue to learn the eight DNP Essentials, I will take the knowledge and apply that it in practical ways that create benefit. In my first semester, I took the knowledge learned in informatics, and I worked with an interdisciplinary team to redesign the workflow of pharmacogenetics test results to ensure that providers have timely, accurate, and easily retrievable manner, across a multi-location clinic. As a current student of population health, I am researching the effects of repeated trauma on police, fireman, and paramedics. As I complete my research, I am learning that there is a significant difference in the rate of suicides and attempts between first responders and the general population. Through the understanding, I will be able to take the best evidenced-based practice approach to preventing adverse mental health effects and apply those practices within the first responder system in Hood County, which is where I practice full time. I look forward to next semester when we begin policy. I am a member of the Texas Nurses Association Political Action Committee, and as I learn how to better engage our legislative leaders, I know that I can make a difference for nursing by being a nursing activist. Lastly, when I have completed my DNP project, I hope to have increased access to care through an interprofessional team approach by providing an advanced practice nursing provider, urgent care telemedicine model that will use paramedics as their patient site presenter as an alternative to transporting all patients to the emergency department.

Christine Walker - pic Christine Walker

The DNP program meets the demand to prepare nurses to practice and provide leadership within health care systems that grows ever more complex with regard to scientific knowledge and sophisticated technology. My DNP program has provided me with the skills to lead nurses in integrating and applying nursing research and evidenced-based practice. Through my DNP education I am prepared to promote improved quality, safety and access to healthcare, improving population health through innovative ideas and interprofessional collaboration. This program has helped me to develop advanced skills to perform confidently in executive leadership roles, improving nursing practice and patient outcomes. I am prepared for organizational leadership, with an increase in systems leadership skills and competencies outside of the hospital walls involving public policy understanding and how nursing impacts population health. Using the eight foundational DNP Essentials I will have the advanced competencies and skills required to practice within and support a variety of nursing roles. I have a strong scientific foundation to facilitate understanding of current and future practice issues. I have skills in systems leadership which will promote quality improvement and healthcare outcomes for patients, target populations, and communities as a whole. I have the skills to translate research into practice, a key component in merging science with human caring and human needs. I have an in-depth knowledge of information systems and technologies that are currently transforming health care and its delivery. I understand the importance of using nursing expertize to influence health care policy and advocate for equity and social justice in health care delivery. I have the leadership skills to create interprofessional teams that collaborate within the complex multi-tiered health care environment to provide safe, high-quality patient outcomes. I understand my role in improving the health status of our country with focus on both clinical prevention and population health strategies. Finally, my clinical experiences have provided me with advanced nursing skills that cross specialty roles, both within and outside of hospital based health care systems, that include advanced clinical judgment, systems thinking in designing and delivering improved patient outcomes and the ability to mentor other nurses to achieve excellence. Through my DNP education I have become more effective at global thinking as it relates to nursing and population health. I have broadened my horizons and become involved in the issues that impact the people that I serve. As examples of that growth I testified at the Environmental Protection Agency public hearing on air standards and I am involved in the Texas Workforce Commission study design on violence in healthcare. I have over 30 years of nursing experience and the skill set needed to lead and mentor the nurses of our future, ensuring the changes in health care moving forward are driven by nursing expertize and evidenced-based practice.

Tina Mendiola- pic Tina Mendiola

With the uncertainty and continuous evolution in today’s healthcare environment, it is crucial to continue to evolve as a nurse leader. It is essential to commit to being a lifelong learner. The growth during my Doctorate in Nursing Practice program has solidified my nursing career; in turn, has opened me up to new opportunities and aspirations. Upon completion of the program, I will continue to question the status quo; however, I will gain new abilities in which to make changes based on a solid foundation. My professional goals include a continuation of honing my executive leadership and critical thinking skills to consistently provide the highest level of care to patients and to be an advocate for my organization. The foundation I have built, over the last 20 years, has aided me in my professional path. My focused area of practice is primarily in the area of Obstetrics. I have enjoyed a progressive career path including many leadership opportunities. My career has grown within this specialty. Early achievements were focused on tasks and grasping a clear understanding of the birth process. I soon realized that I enjoyed caring for patients as well as caring for processes and teams. This revelation generated many opportunities to excel in progressive leadership positions. The journey has been priceless in my quest to succeed and grow as a leader and scholar. Lifelong continuing education is essential to continue to be a role model for progressive change in our profession. In addition, obtaining my Doctorate of Nursing Practice supplemented my nursing background by providing a holistic perspective on healthcare as an entity. Patient centered care, enhanced with scholarly thought allows practitioners and learners to engage in healthcare issues that affect the patient as a whole. The opportunities I have had to volunteer have enriched me personally and professionally. I have the honor of being an advocate for the Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses; I work with nurses who have struggled in their career with emotional and substance abuse challenges. As an advocate, I am able to provide guidance and support to my nurse clients along with giving back to my profession. The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nursing has provided me with a great networking arena along with new colleagues from all over the United States. I am now involved at the state and national level. In addition, I have served as a team captain for St. David’s South Austin Medical Center and the American Heart Association Heart in fund raising activities. Mentoring is extremely important to our profession. I serve as a mentor to a Neal Korcurek Scholarship recipient. Serving as a mentor allows me to provide encouragement and support to a new college student throughout her school year as well as assist in molding the future leaders in healthcare. The role I envision as a graduate is continuing to be a driving force in the Women and Children’s healthcare arena. I will ensure that every initiative I lead is founded not only on evidenced based practice; but, grounded to meet the ever changing legal entities of healthcare today.

Dawn Kineman - pic Dawn Kineman

2015 - 2017 Texas Organization of Nurse Executives (TONE) 2015 - 2017 Graduate Nurse Student Academy 2009 - 2017 Phi Kappa Phi 2009 - 2017 Sigma Theta Tau International, Iota Mu Chapter 2008 - 2017 American Nurses Association 2008 - 2017 Texas Nurses Association 2009 - 2017 National League for Nursing (NLN)

Jessica Wiles - pic Jessica Wiles

I decided to pursue my DNP degree because of the need to bring knowledge of the research process and evidence-based practice to the bedside. My hope is that in obtaining my DNP, I will be able to utilize the knowledge and skills I learn through this program to help others become more confident in critiquing evidence and have the confidence to implement changes that would benefit their patients. I want others to look to me and think, “Jessica can do it, surely I can too!” I love mentoring and inspiring others to accomplish things they never thought possible and seeing them grow. Through the classes I have taken so far, I have already experienced growth and begun to think differently as a leader. I am excited about upcoming opportunities and cannot wait to see the outcomes and benefits that our patients will experience as we collaborate with other disciplines and implement quality improvement projects within our facility.

Donna Wallis

A Texas A&M Corpus Christi Nursing student, Donna is seeking her MSN Nurse Educator Degree.

A transformational leader with over twenty-two years of healthcare experience, Donna’s goal is to complete her MSN studies, progress her career in nursing education and educational leadership to benefit nurses of the future and the citizens of Texas.

With a passion for teaching, Donna’s vision is to earn a PhD in nursing and become a Dean of Nursing in a Tier One University in Texas. Donna believes that through education, she can impact the future of nursing as a whole and be a wonderful ambassador for the Texas Association of Nurse Executives.

Lisa Woodward

Lisa is a Texas Tech Health Science center student seeking her Doctorate of Nursing Practice Degree.

An emerging leader with the phenomenal ability to build good will, generate and find better ideas and to actualize those ideas to astonishing outcomes, Lisa's style and enthusiasm for nursing is a remarkable asset to the nursing community for Texas.

Lisa intends to utilize her knowledge and skills to improve the health of the population she serves through her work in nursing education at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, her work with Teas team, and her work on the Texas Pilot of the Choosing Wisely campaign. Lisa’s goal is to further advance these campaigns as well as take part and lead many more to come, further advancing her profession and ultimately leading to optimal patient outcomes and health.

Lindsay Schneider

A student of Texas Tech Health Science Center, Lindsay is pursing the Doctorate of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership Degree.

Lindsay is a member of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) and has been a member of TONE for 2 years..

Lindsay’s professional goals are to continue to grow in her role as a clinical nurse manager, be more involved at the system and state level of her organization, and to obtain a leadership role as a Director of Women’s Services, ultimately becoming a Chief Nursing Officer.

Colleen LeClair

Colleen is a TTUHSC Student scheduled to complete her DNP Degree in May of 2015.

Colleen believes the gift to influence others through knowledge and education is an important aspect for the future of nursing, and she intends to influence and participate in a variety of projects with her professional colleagues by means of teaching quality improvement practices, use of evidence based practice and guidance of nursing research projects.

After completion of her degree, Colleen plans to dedicate more time to participation and guidance in nursing research projects. As a teacher, Colleen hopes to influence and to inspire future nurses to practice to the fullest extent of their degree. Colleen aspires to impact healthcare and nursing on a much broader scale though active partnerships with physicians, community providers, and community board memberships.