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Nursing students, faculty launch campus organization focused on diversity and inclusion

| Thursday, April 8, 2021

This semester, nursing students and faculty advisors have created the Nursing Student Alliance for Inclusion and Diversity (NSAID), a division of the Department of Nursing meant to promote inclusivity within the College and the nursing profession.
Crystal Ramirez | The Observer
Professors Jennifer Riggs and Nicole Mentag and club president Nathalie Espinoza, treasurer Jenna Stengle and secretary Shelby Franken (pictured left to right) founded NSAID to support marginalized students in the nursing program.
According to the group’s mission statement, NSAID hopes to support traditionally marginalized groups within the College’s nursing program.
“The Nursing Student Alliance for Inclusion and Diversity… would like to create awareness of diversity to bring together those called to nursing by providing academic and social activities, and any other activities suggested by its members that uplift, motivate, and support, creating a more inclusive environment for diverse populations within the Saint Mary’s community,“ the statement said.
In an email interview with The Observer, faculty advisor and nursing professor Jennifer Riggs emphasized that the organization will seek to find ways to form a sustainable place for all students to learn.
“NSAID hopes to create an honest and respectable learning environment where we can challenge ourselves and each other to be more inclusive,“ she said.
Riggs noted that NSAID was founded to address limited diversity among nursing students and staff.
“The group was created because we recognized a lack of diversity among our nursing student population and nursing faculty, and because we want everyone in our nursing program to feel and know that they belong,“ she said.
Reflecting on underrepresentation, Riggs pointed to poor examples in media that might make students feel like they do not belong in the field.
“We believe that some pre-nursing and nursing students may feel underrepresented because they do not see themselves in the faculty or in the nurses on TV,“ she said. “In reality, this is misrepresentation.“
Riggs highlighted the importance of diversity to serve patients.
Nursing is diverse and inclusive and must be because our patient population is so diverse and in need of inclusion,” she said. 
In an email, president of NSAID Nathalie Espinoza recalled her experiences entering the program as a first-year and how she knew diversity needed to be improved.
“As a freshman nursing student, I quickly recognized the lack of diversity among the nursing population,“ Espinoza said. “Now as a sophomore student moving up in the program, there was still no change. The nursing population should be representative of a diverse population because as future nurses, we serve diverse patient populations.“
“The creation of this club will definitely help future nursing classes and especially incoming freshmen feel a stronger sense of community and inclusion which help foster retention [and] enrollment efforts in the nursing program,“ she said.
The group held its first event Wednesday evening, inviting students to watch the film “The American Nurse“ and engage with a panel of local nurses that answered questions regarding diversity in the field.
“Our club’s future events will help support the nursing community by creating awareness, respect and support for the nursing students of various races, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual identities, faiths, first-generation college students [and] international students,“ Espinoza said.
Espinoza hopes by gaining awareness about inclusivity, students can improve the treatment of future patients.
“Future nurses help and treat people from all walks of life, having this awareness helps increase the quality of health care treatment of our future patients,“ she said. 
Editor’s Note: Associate News Editor Crystal Ramirez contributed to this report. 
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About Genevieve Coleman

Genevieve Coleman is a senior at Saint Mary's majoring in English literature, creative writing and secondary education with a minor in theatre. She currently serves as an Assistant Managing Editor.

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