Distinguished Graduates Fall 2012
Posted: Jan. 11, 2013
Bertha Eloisa “Penny” Chapa-Flores
Outstanding Doctoral Student
Penny received her BSN and MSN from the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston and is a Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner. She is currently on faculty at UTHSC-San Antonio School of Nursing. Penny received the prestigious John A. Hartford Pre-doctoral Fellowship, a $100,000 award to support professional and research development. The goals of her fellowship included developing a program of research focused on health literacy, generating women’s health knowledge focused on needs of minority populations, and providing leadership in women’s health and aging policy development. She has also completed a portfolio in gerontology and an integrated scholarly portfolio. Penny is a member, and held office, in the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, San Antonio Chapter. She is also a Board Member for the Department of Defense, Psychological Health/Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program and a reviewer for Cancer Nursing, an international journal for cancer care. She is first author on the article “Cervical Cancer Screening and Older Mexican American Women” with Dr. Debbie Volker, which was published last year. Penny has presented at eight conferences in the last two years: the 18th annual Qualitative Research Conference in Montreal, the 23rd International Nursing Research Congress in Australia, the 14th International Nursing Research conference in Spain, and the Gerontological Society of America’s 63rd annual scientific meeting in New Orleans.
She is an expert on Health Literacy and challenges in bilingual research, cultural beliefs and cancer screening among Hispanic women, gerontology, and translation issues in Health Promotion: English to Spanish. In addition to these accomplishments, one of her references concluded, “Dr. Flores is a person true to her word, a conscientious clinician, and an excellent educator.” We anticipate her making important contributions to the improvement of health services and outcomes for underserved women and their families.
Outstanding Masters Student
Kristen completed her BSN here at UT-Austin in 2008. She has a very long list of community volunteer activities. One of her nominations said, “Kristen never says ‘NO’!” She has been involved with Relay for Life, March for Babies, and Parish Hospitality and Youth Ministries, as well as benefits for Bastrop County wildfire victims and the Children’s Advocacy Center, to name a few. At the School of Nursing she volunteered in the Simulation Lab, with the goal of gaining more teaching experience. She was a team leader for the Body Mass Index Station at Explore UT. Her professional goals are very clear: She wants to prepare herself to be a professor and teach maternity nursing. In addition to her focus on excellence in the classroom and in her clinical practicum courses, she worked as a TA both in nursing and also in the biology department. She obtained a teaching certificate in first-year interdisciplinary instruction, has taught Sibling Preparation classes and currently is a childbirth educator. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau and also the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. A faculty member who has worked with Kristen said: “She gives 110 percent to every project, class, student experience and job. As she moves forward in her career, she will rock the world of her future students!”
Outstanding Masters Student
Kimberly earned a degree in nutrition from UT-Austin in 2009, completed her MSN through the Alternate-Entry Program and is on her way into the PhD program next semester. She serves the community, the School of Nursing and The University of Texas in many very interesting and important ways. She served as president of the Association for Nurses in Graduate School, coordinated a service event for the Ronald McDonald House, a crosswalk safety initiative, and volunteered at Dell Children’s Hospital and Hospice Austin. She established the Interdisciplinary Project Collaborate involving Nursing, Pharmacy and Social Work, serving as the Nursing Chair. Project Collaborate resulted in 325 nurse-volunteer hours and 570 health screenings to medically underserved central Texas citizens. She has achieved the Dean of Students Leadership and Ethics Institute Exemplary certification and worked on an inter-professional simulation with faculty and staff. She was selected for the very competitive University Health Services Clinic Volunteer Program and is the first graduate student member of the Student Health Advisory Committee. Kimberly is secretary of the Texas Nurses Association (TNA) District 5 and served as a Delegate at the TNA House of Delegates Convention. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the international nursing honorary and Phi Kappa Phi, made up of the top graduate students. This fall she was awarded the Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Award (chosen out of 1,000 applicants nationwide). Funds from this award will be used to advance one of Kimberly’s goals: inter-professional research and practice combining nutrition and nursing. She has already put some of this interest into practice, working on a childhood asthma research project with Dr. Eileen Kintner, where Kimberly created a family food habits instrument to learn about the nutrition of children with asthma. She is co-author on two posters, two articles in press, and two under review. One of her references said: “Kimberly consistently and eloquently shares a message to all nurses to become involved in sharing the future of nursing science.”
Outstanding Undergraduate Student
Alexandra was nominated by several of her fellow students and received glowing references from faculty. In addition to her BSN, she completed the Business Foundations Certificate Program with Highest Distinction from the McCombs School of Business and is close to completing a second degree in Radio/Television/Film. She has volunteered at the Austin State Hospital and tutored nursing students in biology and pathophysiology. She was voted Best Speaker for the Leadership and Management Case Study Presentations and was a Team Leader during the mock disaster drill. Faculty commended the quality of her clinical research paper where she explored the impact of physical activity on the health outcomes of adolescents. She went on to provide Health Advisory Council for a school district with evidence-based recommendations to revise physical education policy in the schools. One of her fellow students described her as “the ideal student and an ideal person. For me she is a role model of how nursing students should be.” Several of the nominations remarked about her exceptional intellectual discipline, tremendous curiosity, and genuinely caring nature, yet said she is modest and unassuming. One student summed it up by saying, “There are many bright stars in our graduating class, but this girl is exceptional.”