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A Night of Celebration: School of Nursing honors accomplished alumni, thanks generous donors

Posted: Oct. 1, 2015

On Thursday, Sept. 24, Dean Alexa Stuifbergen and members of The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing Advisory Council recognized the many outstanding achievements of three former students at a dinner at the Headliners Club in Austin, Texas. In addition, the event was an opportunity to say thank you to generous donors who have recently established endowments to ensure that the School continues to provide excellence in nursing education, research and service.

Distinguished Alumni Award for Excellence in Nursing

Randolph Rasch, PhD, FNP, RN

Dean Alexa Stuifbergen and Dean Randolph Rasch

Dean Alexa Stuifbergen presents Dean Randolph Rasch
the Distinguished Alumni award

Dr. Rasch was recently named dean of the College of Nursing at Michigan State University. He has more than twenty-five years of experience teaching in higher education. Prior to becoming dean at Michigan State, he was a visiting professor and interim chair in the Department of Nursing at North Carolina Central University-Durham and a professor and chair of the Department of Community Practice Nursing in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His work at UNCG focused on leading faculty in community and mental health nursing as well as nursing care for the elderly. Before that, Dean Rasch served as director of family nurse practitioner programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Nursing and the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

“I am passionate about addressing the looming nursing shortage by inspiring student success and encouraging nurses to pursue graduate education. Nurses must practice as clinical scholars so they can identify the new knowledge that will improve models of care and patient outcomes. We cannot afford to limit who develops knowledge in nursing,” he said.

Dean Rasch’s research efforts have focused on areas of primary care and community health, specifically analyzing the roles, functions, and appropriate skill mix for all levels of the profession. He has published and presented in the areas of primary care, HIV risk reduction, and diversity in health care education and clinical practice.

He worked as a family nurse practitioner for more than 10 years and was the first statewide director of nursing services for the Tennessee Department of Correction in Nashville. In 1975 he became the first African-American male to serve as a public health nurse in the Berrien County Health Department in Michigan.

Dean Rasch received his doctoral degree from the UT Austin School of Nursing in 1988. He is a fellow in the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and a distinguished scholar in the National Academies of Practice.

Rising Star Alumni Award

Dean Stuifbergen and Elise Chabot

Dean Stuifbergen presents Elise Chabot
the Rising Star Alumni award

Elise Chabot, BSN, RN

Elise is a cardiac care nurse at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, where she works in both acute and step down care. Prior to that, she completed a residency program as a perioperative nurse at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. She recently completed the requirements for certification as an infant massage instructor and teaches families about infant massage as well as how to support and love their babies through nurturing touch. Elise is a member of the education committee and H.E.A.R.T. committee at Texas Children’s and belongs to the Society of Pediatric Nurses.

Elise received her bachelors in nursing degree from the UT Austin School of Nursing in 2011. She received the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses Recipient in March 2014 and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society of Nursing, the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society, the National Scholars Honor Society and was a Distinguished UT Austin College Scholar in 2011.

Dean Stuifbergen and Jessica Ruiz

Dean Stuifbergen presents Jessica Ruiz
the Rising Star Alumni award

Jessica Ruiz, MSN, RN

Jessica is chief quality officer at Stonegate Pharmacies in Austin, Texas. In 2013 she was nationally certified as a Nurse Executive, Advanced, by American Nurses Credentialing Center. Jessica has worked in a variety of health care organizations and achieved successive promotions due to her work ethic, integrity, knowledge and responsibility. She currently serves on the TEXAS TEAM, a state action coalition to promote the Future of Nursing Report, where she served as the Texas TEAM long-term care champion. Jessica was also appointed to a Texas Board of Nursing taskforce to study implications of the growth of nursing education programs in Texas.

Jessica received her bachelors in nursing degree in 2008 and master’s in nursing degree in 2011 from the UT Austin School of Nursing. She was the outstanding BSN graduate at the School of Nursing in 2008.

Dean Stuifbergen, assisted by Dr. Lorraine Walker and Dr. Sharon Horner, also thanked the following people for their generous gifts to the future of nursing.

Marianne Mitchell Conner Endowed Presidential Scholarship
Established in memory of Marianne, a long-time advanced practice nurse, by her husband Wayne, this endowment will provide support for nursing students under specialized criteria created by The University of Texas Development Board in 1973 to provide merit-based scholarship support to outstanding UT Austin students.

McPeake-Shuler Family Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Nursing
Funds from the Fred W. and Marion B. McPeake Family Foundation will support junior- and senior-level students with academic merit.

Ruth Adelia Nicholson, MSN, RN, Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Nursing
Created by Ruth’s niece Jean Hackett to honor Ruth’s role as one of the leaders in establishing the UT Austin School of Nursing.

Clair Jordan Endowed Presidential Fellowship
Created in Clair’s name to honor her service to Texas nurses through the Texas Nurses Association by family, friends and colleagues.

Marilyn Willman Endowed Presidential Fellowship
Established in memory Dr. Marilyn Willman, President of the UT System School of Nursing, for her foundational work in the development of not only the UT Austin School of Nursing, but also all schools of nursing within the UT System.

Alexa K. Stuifbergen Research Fund
Initiated by former Dean Dolores Sands to honor Dean Stuifbergen’s service as the School’s associate dean for research and created by family, friends and colleagues.

Click here to view the list of past Distinguished Alumni Recipients

Click here to view the list of past Rising Star Alumni Recipients

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