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Senior studies leadership and engagement


The Villanova Chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP) is widely recognized for excellence on university, state and national levels. Its president, senior Julie Kurkowski, leads SNAP-Villanova's chapter. In fall 2013, Julie elected to work with Associate Professor Carol Toussie Weingarten, PhD, RN, ANEF for a credit-bearing independent study, focusing on leadership development and organizational engagement.   

“This is my first true involvement in any sort of independent research study work,” explains Julie, “I took the research course last semester and was interested in the various outlets available to me for evidence-based practice in my role as a nursing student and as president of a student nurses' organization.”

Implementing the leadership framework of Julie Gebauer and Don Lowman from their book, Closing the Engagement Gap, Julie is exploring how their corporate framework for engaging employees translates to engagement of members in meeting SNAP’s goals of education, service, professional development, and the formation of networks and friendships.

As the SNAP advisor, Dr. Weingarten suggested this particular area for independent study which would give Julie opportunity for rigorous and in-depth study of leadership as well as the experience of translating principles of leadership and engagement from theory into practice with the SNAP chapter.  

“Julie's independent study is indeed a rigorous undertaking that takes leadership to the ‘next levels,’” says Dr. Weingarten, "and outcomes of her excellent work are already apparent." She notes that faculty-student partnerships are also "very Augustinian," because faculty are inspired through the interchange of ideas during the individual meetings throughout the semester.  

Julie has used various events and projects organized by SNAP as the practicum for her course and hopes to have the work completed by the end of the fall semester.  She plans to submit her study for publication and for presentation in nursing student and other professional settings.