Minnesota Nursing magazine

Celebrating nurse leaders

Alumni Society names award recipients
Outstanding Undergraduate Nursing Student Award

This award recognizes an undergraduate student who demonstrates leadership and commitment to service, competency in the delivery of nursing care that reflects sensitivity to diverse and underserved populations, and consistent use of critical thinking skills to evaluate knowledge and advance nursing practice.

Mara Smith, BSN ’17, was honored for her leadership in the immunization tour course, which involves students providing flu vaccinations to the University community in clinics across campus. The clinics are fast paced and require clear communication as well as the ability to work with an interdisciplinary team. Her nominator said that in this regard she showed dedication by representing nursing and following safe patient care protocols. She also participated in the University Honors Program, competed in the Global Health Case Competition, served as secretary for the National Student Nurse Association and volunteered for the Indian Student Association and University of Minnesota Bharat events.

Outstanding Undergraduate Nursing Student Award

Xiaohui Yu, BSN ’17, was honored for maintaining an outstanding academic record while also working as a student in the Bentson Healthy Communities Innovation Center. She volunteered as a violence prevention educator for the Aurora Center, at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic and at iSTOP, an interprofessional student-run program that provides basic health care, supplies and referrals to individuals experiencing homelessness. Yu has worked as a nursing assistant, a research associate in the Mindful Heart Study and a medical interpreter. Her nominator said that she has excellent clinical reasoning, is an engaging student and an excellent team player with promise of becoming a leader in nursing. Yu will continue her education in public health at Harvard University, with a focus on health literacy, health disparities and access to health care.

Outstanding Graduate Nursing Student

This award recognizes an exceptional graduate student who contributes knowledge to the profession of nursing through research and explicates nursing’s social mandate to respond to the health concerns of society.

Carrie Neerland, MS ’05, APRN, CNM, PhD(c), was honored for her work providing personalized woman-centered care that encourages a physiologic approach to pregnancy and birth. Her research focuses on maternal confidence for physiologic birth. She has worked with faculty on two research projects, and her dissertation involves the development and testing of a reliable and valid instrument to measure a woman’s confidence for physiologic birth. Neerland is active in the Minnesota Affiliate of the American College of Nurse Midwives and the American College of Nurse Midwives at the national level. Her nominators note that Neerland’s innate curiosity is complemented by skills in organizing and evaluating information.

Rising Star Award

The award recognizes a recent graduate of the School of Nursing who is achieving noteworthy success. The recipient is recognized for career accomplishments, entrepreneurial endeavors and scholastic work.

Katherine Todd, DNP ’12, MBA, RN, was honored for her courage and perseverance in advocating for change. After graduating with a specialty in integrative health and healing, Todd served as director of the Family Birth Center at Methodist Hospital. In this role she engaged teams in the construction of the Birth Center, which created water birthing suites, spacious postpartum rooms and private special care nursery rooms. Other improvements across the Park Nicollet System that she worked on include the introduction of integrative therapies, the development of local educational symposiums about the labor and delivery process and the creation of the donor breast milk program. She also led a team that introduced nitrous oxide as a pain relief option for women in labor, which made Methodist Hospital the first in the state to implement the option. She is currently vice president of health and wellbeing at The Waters.