Maddie Crocenzi


Nursing students at the Rainforest Café in Orlando, Florida.

Earlier this month, a group of nursing students attended the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) convention in Orlando, Florida with the help of a grant from SGA.

This national convention is an annual event in which nursing schools, hospitals and potential employers meet from around the country. The Messiah students who attended the convention are a part of Messiah’s Student Nurses Association (SNA), the local chapter of the organization.

President of Messiah’s SNA and senior nursing major, Kelsey Dierkes, says the organization has honed her leadership skills.

“We’re in this organization to practice our leadership skills, and it’s all in a school level, but that also translates when we graduate, and we have so many opportunities to be leaders,” she says. “These conventions just reinforce those opportunities we have and the growth that’s available to us. It’s cool to see other people living out their dreams and the different possibilities we have and the inspiration we get from them.”

One source of inspiration was a keynote speaker at the convention, Matt Jones. Jones is a motivational speaker and cancer survivor who credits some of his passion for life to the nurses who took care of him.

Senior Joyce Abraham says hearing Jones speak was one of the highlights of the trip. “He was a senior in college when he was diagnosed with cancer, and he was a super athletic, popular guy on campus, and no one saw it coming,” she says. “He had a bad attitude about it in the beginning but there was a nurse that forced him out of it. He started celebrating the little victories.”

In addition to attending workshops on different areas of nursing, the students were able to network with employers across the country. Junior Julia Simpson is from Florida and says the convention was a great way for her to network with employers in her home state.

“I did some networking because they have this huge exhibit hall with grad schools and different hospitals and all sorts of stuff,” Simpson says. “That was one of the main reasons I went to this convention because I was able to network in Florida where I live.”

Senior Rachel Kidwell also networked with employers from her home state of Maryland while at the convention. She met a nurse recruiter for a hospital she had recently applied to and received an interview in the weeks after the convention.

“She [the nurse recruiter] wrote down that I was there which was good,” Kidwell says. “I think it definitely was a plus.”

However, the trip wasn’t just about professional opportunities. The group stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Some went to Magic Kingdom while others went to Downtown Disney. Overall, the group bonded during their time spent in Orlando.

“We had a really, really good group dynamic,” Abraham says. “We knew the juniors before but we kind of bonded over the experience. There wasn’t that divide of, ‘Oh I’m a senior, and you’re a junior.’”

Ultimately, Simpson says the trip was a nice break from classes and a great glimpse into the professional world of nursing.

“I think just being able to kind of be in the professional world of nursing for a week was really valuable because when you’re here in school, you’re so focused on passing and getting through your classes and your work,” she says. “It was valuable to be able to see nursing in a professional light and kind of learn about a career in nursing instead of just how to be a nurse.”

To learn how you can obtain a grant through SGA and attend a conference in your field of study, visit the Career and Professional Development Center for more information.



Maddie Crocenzi, Editor-in-Chief
Pug lover, Christ-follower, runner and peanut butter enthusiast.