By Kelly O'Brien
A new organization for pre-nursing minority students called AMBITION was recently established at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Nursing.
AMBITION, which stands for "Advising Minorities By Inspiring & Transforming Them Into Outstanding Nurses,” aims to improve the diversity of the nursing program at the university through a mentoring system. The organization is run by a student-led executive board along with the College of Nursing’s associate dean of clinical practice, partnership and community engagement Karen Bankston, PhD.
Olivia Smith, a third-year student at College of Nursing, leads as president, and says she was inspired to create the program after observing a lack of minority students in the college despite the campus’s widespread diversity.
"I came to the conclusion that the root of the issue was that minorities were having difficulties getting accepted into the College of Nursing with such a competitive grade point average (GPA),” says Smith. "With this in mind, I thought a mentoring program could be beneficial for pre-nursing minority students to not only help them with academics, but get them connected and involved on campus with the overall goal of helping them get accepted into the college.”
The mentor role is available to sophomores, juniors or seniors already enrolled in the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. Freshmen who are interested in becoming mentees are required to be in pre-nursing or taking courses that make them eligible to enter in the following semester. They are also expected to attend study tables on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m., attend AMBITION meetings and events and remain actively engaged with their mentors throughout the semester.
First-year pre-nursing student Alexa Owens can attest to the advantages that the mentorship system provides:
"As a mentee, being a part of AMBITION has been amazing,” says Owens. "It’s great to have such a strong support group and knowing people who are in the same field as I am that can definitely help me in the future in the professional world. Being a part of this program will also contribute to my academic development by providing me with the tools I need, such as study skills, in order to succeed throughout the rest of the nursing program.”
Vice President and third-year nursing student Chelsea Blackstone says she is excited to help Smith lead AMBITION and sees the program as having the potential to immediately impact members through guidance and service.
"I joined AMBITION because I know how hard it was as a pre-nursing student trying to figure out what the best way to study was or how to approach a certain class or teacher,” says Blackstone. "It would have been wonderful to have another student to ask questions or look up to for advice regarding the College of Nursing.
"I also love giving back to the community as a group such as helping out at the Ronald McDonald House and walking in such events as the Bridges Walk for a Just Community. It is extremely wonderful to help Olivia follow her passion to help others within the College of Nursing. This program may be able to inspire others to seek out and achieve their dreams.”
AMBITION has already completed several service projects. For example, on Feb. 12, along with members of UC’s African American & Cultural Resource Center, the group partnered with Be the Match Registry to host a donor drive for cancer awareness. The drive consisted of a presentation from a bone marrow recipient who successfully encouraged students to participate in the registry.
Moving forward, AMBITION leaders say they hope to engage in events that include the promotion of healthful practices, exercise, informative lectures from health care professionals, and service projects.
The group plans to host its first graduation celebration at the end of the semester for pre-nursing students who have completed the program.