Born from the desire of four sophomore nursing students to create meaningful academic and social connection for themselves, the Multicultural Student Nurses Organization (MSNO) was launched in March, the newest student organization in the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing (FCN).
The founders - Naomi Tegene, Dominica Villegas, Salina Berhane and Caprice Beato-Lembert - brought their dream to fruition since the idea germinated last year as a study group. Dominica and Naomi are co-presidents, with Salina and Caprice serving as co-vice presidents. The students soon realized that through their shared experiences and backgrounds they could help more underrepresented students in the FCN. Building community was a guiding star in the development of their new organization- a sentiment which all four echo.
Caprice notes, “There are other organizations within the College of Nursing but none of them specifically address the needs of students of color.” Through MSNO, the students want to honor that identity and help other students feel they belong, describing how being in a mostly-white classroom can be intimidating. MSNO wants to serve as a safe haven of support and their broad view of advancing relationships doesn’t stop there. They also believe that allyship is vital and welcome those who want to help multicultural nursing students. Salina explains “All are invited to join in. When you do, it’s important to come in, listen to our issues, and participate in the action.”
“MSNO’s opening event was well-attended by prospective members at the undergraduate and graduate level, faculty, staff and even incoming freshmen. It truly represented the inclusive nature of the organization. The leaders are now poised to join with our other student nurse groups to elevate the diversity, equity and inclusion work in the college and nursing community,” says Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence Patricia K. Bradley, PhD, RN, FAAN, who is the faculty advisor for MSNO.
The major goal for MSNO is to facilitate student-to-student connection, student-to-community connection, and student-to-faculty relationships. They not only want to provide “a community that offers guidance, support, advice, and comfort to nursing students of color” but also to “create a more inclusive environment at the College of Nursing and within the Villanova community as a whole.” The four students also note that MSNO is a service-oriented organization. They will play an active role in University-sponsored service events such as the MLK Day of Service, and also volunteer in surrounding communities in any way they can.
At MSNO’s virtual information session, on April 7, the students introduced the mission of MSNO, recruited new members and educated faculty and staff “so they can offer this organization as a resource to future and current students,” according to Salina. Their first official meeting is coming soon.
The mission of MSNO extends beyond enhancing the experience in the College of Nursing for minoritized students. There is so much these nursing students want to accomplish during their time at Villanova. Dominica explains, “There is no one type of nurse” and MSNO wants to make that known to the Villanova community, hoping to change the perception of nursing as being only a predominantly white, female-dominated profession. The creation of the Multicultural Student Nurses Organization is a step towards achieving that goal.
How is it going now for the organizers? Naomi shares, “We did find community and we love it here.” Now they are poised to help engender that feeling for all nursing students.