October 2013

Columbia Nurses Change the World

By Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dean, Columbia University School of Nursing

Henry StreetTuyet-vy Nguyen with the Vietnamese orphans she worked with prior to attending Columbia Nursing

Accomplished, successful students from throughout the United States  —and indeed, the world — come to Columbia Nursing because of our highly regarded academic programs.  Bright, inquisitive minds and an enthusiasm for rigorous, challenging work are among the hallmarks of those we accept for education here.

The students we attract — and welcome —share another vital quality as well: they are motivated by a commitment to serve, especially to help the poor and disadvantaged wherever they’re found.

Before setting foot on campus, many of our incoming students have already embraced the underlying, central spirit of nursing. That ethos of care and service — exemplified by the choices they’ve made - is how our students choose to define themselves, both personally and professionally.

Whether it’s working with AIDS patients in Africa or helping provide clean drinking water to an equatorial village, new Columbia Nursing students have seen the difference they have made to bring about a powerful, positive change in the lives of others.  Recognizing that they can have an enduring impact to improve the welfare of the people they serve, they want to do even more.


So they come to Columbia Nursing.

Here we use evidence-based teaching to develop critical-thinking skills and enhance an underlying desire to improve the health of patients, families and communities. The truth is that our students see things differently than most. They often express a sense of responsibility to help others. Acknowledging this difference helps shape a curriculum that prepares Columbia students to take on even more challenging roles than those they may have already been engaged in before they came to us.   

Here are some examples of the kind of extraordinary individuals who have chosen to come to Columbia Nursing:

Alexandra Covino earned a BA in psychology from Columbia College and was a recipient of the Harold Brown Scholarship Fund Award. During college she studied abroad in Brazil. While there, she lived with a community midwife and became interested in women’s health issues. Most recently she was a program assistant at the Center for Public Health Sciences at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Alexandra’s goal is to become a women’s health nurse practitioner. Alexandra is a Class of 1968 Nursing Scholar.

Ameeka George earned a BS in applied sciences biomedical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During college, Ameeka traveled to Honduras and helped implement clean water projects in a rural community. Before enrolling at Columbia Nursing, she was a biomechanic at Albert Einstein Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware where she conducted 3D computer analysis for children with cerebral palsy. This sparked an interest in a nursing career as a pediatric nurse practitioner.  Ameeka is a Lincoln Fund Nursing Scholar.

Katherine Kwong earned a BA in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. During college she traveled to Ecuador and worked with a local organization to help improve the welfare of impoverished families. While there, she travelled to remote villages and taught about the importance of basic health screenings and dental hygiene. Katherine volunteered at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center after returning to the Bay Area, an experience that solidified her decision to become a family nurse practitioner.  Katherine is a Walter H. D. Killough Trust Nursing Scholar.

Tuyet-vy Nguyen earned a BS in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior from the University of California, Davis. During college, she interned at the University of California Davis Medical Center child life department, shadowing medical staff.  After graduating, Tuyet-vy, whose parents are Vietnamese refugees traveled to Vietnam and spent three months working at an orphanage for infants and children with HIV/AIDS. She intends to become a family nurse practitioner.  Tuyet-vy is a Lincoln Fund Nursing Scholar.

Each of these students received financial support enabling them to pursue their dream of doing more for patients.  Our generous donors have done much to support extraordinary students such as these. Columbia University’s Giving Day, on October 23rd provides an opportunity to participate in our University-wide effort spirit of support for service to others. This year, you have the choice of directing your gift to several funds including our nursing scholarship fund, an enormously important resource for our students.

On Giving Day last year, Columbia Nursing alumni, employees, students, parents, and friends made contributions which helped fund the financial aid to support many of our amazing students. I urge you to participate in Giving Day this year. Your gift will go directly to our nursing scholarship fund, an enormously important resource for our students. Financial assistance provided through the fund is often the make-or-break factor in our ability to attract smart, spirited students with amazing track records of compassion.

Make a donation and make an impact by participating in Giving Day on October 23 - and help support the nurses who will change lives that change the world.