After hundreds of nominations from our 100,000+ alumni network, weeks of review and thorough consideration by an esteemed panel of judges, we are excited to share with you the nine finalists for Chamberlain’s inaugural Chamberlain Care Awards!
Register for our virtual Stronger Together Event Thursday, May 26, for a live announcement of the three nursing award winners!
This award recognizes a recent alum (graduating within the past 10 years) who is positively influencing health care today and who will unquestionably shape the future of the profession.
Introducing your Emerging Caregiver Award finalists, in alphabetical order:
Sydni Bruner, RN
Student Learning Specialist, Chamberlain Indianapolis Campus
Nominated by: Sheila Tryon RN, MSN Professor at Indianapolis Chamberlain University
Finding Resources for Students and Patients: Making it Her Top Priority
As a Student Learning Specialist at Chamberlain’s Indianapolis Campus, Sydni Bruner brings her own nursing experiences to her job; part advocate, part coach, part tutor, Sydni is changing the lives of nursing students every day.
“Sydni is transforming healthcare one student at a time every day,” says nominator Sheila Tryon. “It is amazing how the students feel extra support because they know Sydni is there if they need her.”
As a mentor and teacher, Sydni handles myriad questions from students. “I don't know that it's ever intentional, but a student will ask a question, for example, ‘What would we do in this situation?’ And I say, ‘Well, I've been in that situation, so let me tell you what I did and what I learned from it.’"
Sydni is a perfect example of how teachers are also lifelong learners. “We were fortunate enough to have a member of the Latino community as our director of the COVID-19 call line, and she saw this huge language gap with our Spanish speaking clients in Indiana.” Sydni ensured resources were put toward that gap and became supervisor of the Spanish call line. “I worked with multiple Spanish speaking agents and clients, and it was probably one of the most rewarding times I've had in nursing,” she says. “Seeing and hearing them be so thankful they could speak to someone in their own language, having resources in their own language -- really kept me going.”
National Senior Director, Ascension Health; Director, Health Policy and Advocacy, Louisiana State Nurses Association
Nominated by JLynn Westley
Advocating Change – From the Bedside to Louisiana’s Highest Court
Nominee Ahnyel Burkes is committed to changing healthcare policy and has worked tirelessly and shoulder-to-shoulder with Louisiana legislators to draft two resolutions that focus on the prevention of workplace violence.
“My goal has always been to help the nursing profession help nurses -- therefore helping patients,” says nominee Ahnyel Burkes. “I want to be a leader not for the title but because I want be in a room to actually help the profession of nursing, to help nurses have a voice.”
“Ahnyel is a dynamic leader,” says nominator JLynn Westley. “Ahnyel has excelled in her career and is a strong proponent of community service. Her affinity for volunteerism is unmatched.”
Always one to face a challenge head-on, Ahnyel understands the power of intention – and the magnitude of policy. She served as chairwoman of the Louisiana Healthcare Workplace Violence Task force and co-authored a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in Nursing in resolution at the Louisiana State Nurses Association’s membership assembly.
“I'm motivated every day because I remember the nurses I worked at the bedside with, I remember the nurses I've led,” Ahnyel says. “The community needs nurses -- at one point in time, we may all need a nurse -- so I'm very motivated to make sure that we have a healthy and thriving workforce -- because if we don't, then the healthcare system's infrastructure will crumble.”
Click here to learn more about Dr. Burkes.
Alya Jawaid, RN
Bedside Nurse, General Medical Unit, University of Chicago Medical Center
Nominated by Ulices Salcedo
Extraordinary Care with Sprinkles on Top!
Be it in hospital hallways or on TikTok, Alya Jawaid is known for her bright personality and entrepreneurial spirit.
If there are colleague birthday cupcakes with extra sprinkles in the break room or a hospital staff pet photo board in the hallway, those were likely the handiwork of Alya. “Alya emulates warmth, humility and compassion as she serves others and always expresses appreciation to all for their efforts,” says nominator Ulices Salcedo.
“I love my work family!” Alya exclaims. “If I didn’t have my coworkers, I don't know how I could do my job. Without teamwork, it’s impossible. We need each other.”
Alya worked in customer service and retail before becoming a nurse, and she brings that mindset into patient care. “How can I make sure that my patients are happy? How can I make sure that their needs are addressed? At the end of the day, being an advocate for my patients, that's my number one,” she says.
That patient focus informs everything Alya does as a bedside nurse, particularly as she creates an inclusive experience for all. One of her personal commitments is to ensure equitable care. “It shouldn’t matter where you grow up, what kind of job you have, or what your background is. Everyone has the right to be their healthiest self,” she says.
While extraordinarily proud of the critical role she and her fellow nurses play in the health and safety of people in her care, Alya also believes in the power of communication and laughter in the healing journey. “Everyone needs a little bit of laughter in their lives,” Alya says. “It brings some calmness back to the workplace.”
The second category is the Alumni Commit-to-Care Service Award, which recognizes an alum whose dedicated work and model service have benefited society and the profession of nursing. Recipients have demonstrated selfless, ongoing community service on a local, state, national or international level.
And the Commit-to-Care finalists are:
Jamerson Holloway, BA, MBA, BSN, DNP (expected graduation 10/2022)
RNA-SEQ Manager, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Las Vegas
Nominated by Tracey Long, PhD, RN, Chamberlain University Las Vegas Campus
Making Strides One Person, One Barbershop at a Time
Jamerson Holloway has the monumental task of managing two large teams of veterans at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs in Las Vegas -- more than 2,100 patients.
“Jamerson is the epitome of a nurse that Florence Nightingale would be proud of,” praised nominator Tracey Long.
Jamerson’s work is not confined to a Monday through Friday schedule, or even to Nevada, for that matter. His passion for helping people has taken him on mission trips around the world, including areas of significant poverty in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
But his heroism is both globe-trotting and grassroots: he takes it to the shops… the barbershops that is! Passionate about educating African American men about health risks including hypertension and diabetes, Jamerson volunteers three Saturdays a month at local barbershops. Creating this type of open dialogue in an unexpected place has changed lives. “Jamerson is the face of modern nursing as he honorably represents two minority groups by who he is,” Long says.
“As nurses, we can't just have a cookie-cutter approach to healthcare management, because what works in the Asian community, for example, may need to be modified to be as fruitful in the African-American community,” Jamerson says.
“Being a nurse allows me that opportunity to make instrumental and incremental impacts on people's lives. I don't have to do it on a broad scale. If I can change the direct trajectory of one person with an act of kindness, that to me is so rewarding.”
Las Vegas is in good hands with Jamerson Holloway. As Dr. Long said, “If I ever get sick, I'd want him to be my nurse!”
Click here to learn more about Mr. Holloway.
Kyle Houser, RN
Clinical Supervisor, Novant Health, Charlotte
Investing Time in His Community and Effecting Powerful Change
Kyle Houser believes health equity starts by making an impact in his own community, and volunteering is hard-wired into him.
For more than a decade, Kyle has prioritized bringing healthcare access to his Charlotte community by organizing and participating in health fairs that provide free blood pressure screenings, EKGs and flu shots. Relationships are a key driver to effecting health equity, Kyle says, particularly listening to patients and understanding their circumstances. “We want to be able to improve the health of the community,” Kyle says. “And one way to do that is try to figure out, ‘Okay, what was it that brought you into the hospital, and what are some of the things that we can do to remove those barriers?’" Kyle believes solving for those barriers is part of his role, even if it is not in his job description. If a patient lives with transportation-insecurity, for example, Kyle will arrange a free Health Ride (essentially a medical uber) to and from the hospital for follow-up visits.
It seems as if Kyle has magically added hours to the day, keeping a schedule that includes a full-time job as a Clinical Supervisor at Novant Health, a board position on the local chapter of the Emergency Nurse’s Association (ENA), board certification training for the ENA Exam, a medical volunteer at the Special Olympics and participant in the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Walks.
Stephanie Rossi, DNP candidate, MSN, BSN, BA, RN
Community Activist and Doula; Advocate for maternal and infant health, particularly among Chicago’s African American and Hispanic populations
Nominated by Dr. Elizabeth Eugenio Fildes
Empowering Chicago’s Most Vulnerable Populations
Fifteen years ago, Stephanie Rossi aspired to be a human rights attorney.
The nursing world was fortunate that Stephanie’s calling evolved slightly and soon crystallized: she would focus her energy and commitment to becoming a community-focused nurse with a home health focus on the south and west sides of Chicago. “Stephanie saw the glaring disparities in minority populations, specifically the African American population,” says nominator Dr. Elizabeth Eugenio Fildes. “This fueled Stephanie’s passion for making healthcare more equitable and just; she addressed this by advancing her education at the graduate level with courses focused on public health and healthcare policy.”
Although Stephanie has bedside experience at Level 1 trauma centers across Illinois, she successfully linked her passion for the law and community activism. “She loved seeing other nurses get excited about policy and gain confidence in collaborating with their state representatives and senators,” Dr. Fildes says. “She wanted to engage patients in their environments and thus transitioned with roles in home health.”
“What inspires me to work with survivors of domestic violence and trauma is that I became a nurse to help people during their toughest time,” Stephanie says. “I wanted to be the person who when all the chips were falling, and the pieces were falling apart, could go in and be what that person needed.”
“I believe that each person, when given a safe environment, can be empowered to advocate for themselves. Working with the most vulnerable populations and giving them a platform to say what they need and drive the care that they need will make the entire world a better place, not just one hospital or one zip code,” Stephanie remarked.
The final Chamberlain Cares Award category is for the Distinguished Career in Nursing. This recognizes an alum who is positively influencing health care today - and will unquestionably shape the future of the profession.
The Distinguished Career in Nursing Award finalists are:
Dr. Lucia Amendano
Family Nurse Practitioner, New York Presbyterian Hospital and Veterans Health Medical Center in New York
Nominated by Matthew MacSweeney
From a Childhood Dream in Ecuador to a Thriving Career in New York City
When Dr. Lucia Amendano was 12 and growing up in a small town in Ecuador, her mom was hospitalized.
Feeling that her mom’s needs were being dismissed, the future Dr. Amendano swooped in and became a fierce protector and advocate for her mom’s care. She decided to start volunteering at the hospital at just 13, and soon realized this was her calling. “One day I was bringing back thermometers from the emergency department, and I saw a man coming into the ER door with an open leg wound and blood dripping from his legs,” she says. I wanted to jump in and help, but I couldn't because I was just a volunteer. That was when I determined that one day I was going to be be an emergency department nurse!”
“Dr. Amendano is constantly creating a culture of learning, and many staff members have pursued a higher education or become nationally certified with her guidance,” says nominator Matthew MacSweeney. “She has initiated quality improvement projects for Covid-19, nurse certification patients and is the founder of the Advanced Professional Registered Nurse Newsletter at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital
One of seven daughters, her family moved to the United States when she was 15, where she pursued her education and became fluent in English.
Just as she had advocated for her mom when she was 12, Dr. Amendano fights for her patients.
“Every patient deserves the same care and treatment for their well-being. No matter where they come from, no matter language they speak, no matter what color their skin,” Dr. Amendano says emphatically.
Nominator MacSweeney couldn’t agree more. “Twelve years after first meeting her, she still is a strong advocate for patients' needs and carries the ensign of compassion across cultural lines and language barriers.”
Dr. Melani Bell,
Vice President, Maryland Nurses Association
Nominated by Dr. Elizabeth Eugenio Fildes
Advocating at the Highest Levels of Maryland Government, on Behalf of the Voiceless
Where some may see an obstacle, Dr. Melani Bell looks for an opportunity.
Committed to creating a world where health equity becomes standard, Dr. Bell has made it her life’s work to make demonstrable progress in her own community. “I'm drawn to care for the vulnerable because it seems that they're without a voice,” Dr. Bell says. “I want to be that bridge that connects patients with the healthcare system and ensures they get the care that they need.”
“Dr. Bell has always had the welfare of the most vulnerable populations of Maryland in mind,” says nominator Dr. Elizabeth Eugenio Fildes. “She advocates for their health through her leadership, community engagement and mentoring activities.”
Her current leadership work includes being the Legislative Co-chair of the Maryland Nurses Association (MNA). One of her most significant accomplishments thus far was her testimony on Maryland House Bill 364, which would prevent medical providers from performing pelvic and rectal exams on unconscious patients without consent. During the testimony, Dr. Bell emphasized the importance of treating all patients with dignity and respect.
“I could never imagine my life without having an unwavering commitment to selfless service,” she says. “I want to leave the world of nursing and healthcare in a better place and inspiring others to do the same.”
“Dr. Bell has an unwavering commitment as a community healthcare advocate who continuously provides selfless service outside of her career commitments,” Dr. Fildes says. “Her ongoing advocacy for nursing education will assist in improving public health challenges impacting the lives of vulnerable populations and families who support them.”
Click here to learn more about Dr. Bell.
Dr. Anita Harris-Brown
Director of Nursing, Texas Children’s Hospital
Nominated by Kareema Hicks
An Exceptional Teacher Committed to Lifelong Learning
Dr. Anita Harris is an exemplar for mentoring others.
She is the director of nursing at Texas Children’s and support float pool. I am a patient care assistant under her portfolio, and she always takes the time for all her employees. She active listens to our concerns and truly remove barriers. She has implemented a program that supports our growth. This program is called Ladder to success. In this program she works with all individuals to identify our career growth. The program builds a pipeline of TCH nursing workforce.
“One of Dr. Harris-Brown’s additional passions creating an all-inclusive environment,” Ms. Hicks says. “She conducts psychological safety huddles so we can share our stories as an opportunity for all of us to understand our differences while creating a sense of belonging.”
“I feel like one of my gifts is that I know how to make people feel love,” Dr. Harris-Brown says.” I know how to bring a connection. I know how to make people feel their best.”
Each year, Dr. Harris-Brown selects a word to live by, a word that will inform her actions and intentions. This year, that word is education. “I have to be a deliverer of education, and I also have to be a recipient of education,” she says. “I can't just always push education out; I also have to bring it in.”
“I'm learning more about how to truly be that transformational and servant leader and need tools to help me.”
By Eileen Daily
More from Alumni
Request More Information
To receive the Chamberlain University Program Guide, including associated career paths, please select a program of study.