Pictured left to right – Jennifer Sandoval, Liliana Trespalacios, Rocio Sanchez, Gloria E. Barrera

During the Membership Assembly on November 4th held in Urbana, Illinois nurses from across the state celebrated the achievements of 4 ANA-Illinois members. Annual awards include Clinical Practice Award; Nurse Influencer Award; Student Nurse of the Year Award & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Scholarship Award.

The Clinical Practice Award recognizes an exemplary nurse who provides evidence of a high level of skill in in-patient care through improving clinical practice and patient-centered outcomes. The 2023 Clinical Practice Award Winner – Rocio Sanchez. Rocio is an amazing skilled nurse offering stellar patient care in a fast-paced facility. Advocate Condell Medical Center has been her home for almost 15 years. She divides her clinical practice between the intensive care unit and emergency department settings. Her clinical skills are such that she precepts, inspires, mentors’ nurses to perform their best care in these acute care settings. As an engaged exemplar role model in a strong magnet institution, she is now president of the midwest region of shared governance structure where she represents thousands of nurse staff and leads the professional development course. Her passion and enthusiasm for nursing is unparalleled and exemplified by her deep commitment to academic success, transformational patient care, and exemplary community engagement.

The Nurse Influencer Award recognizes an exemplary nurse who has influenced the science of nursing practice or care delivery system, a group/community/population (patient or other care providers), sick or well. Contributes to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) in any care or community setting (at any level, local, regional or national level) or nursing profession through education, advocacy, policy, or practice. Mariam Webster defines an influencer (noun) as “one who exerts influence, a person who inspires or guides the actions of others.” This year’s Nurse Influencer Award winner is Gloria E. Barrera. Gloria E. Barrera took office as president of the Illinois Association of School Nurses in 2020, becoming the first Latina president of IASN, and served for two years at the height of the pandemic.  Her leadership has demonstrated positive influence within the specialty of school nursing locally, regionally, and nationally.  During her presidency, she was the voice of school nurses in Illinois and provided many opportunities for IASN members to amplify their own voice and leadership.  She promoted wellness and educational success of school communities by supporting, developing and advocating for all professional school nurse leaders. She led the development of a school nurse toolkit on vaccines with the ICAAP.  Barrera believes that all students have a right to have their physical and mental health needs safely met while in the school setting, no matter their zip code.  She spearheaded the work to promote legislation to appropriate funding for a school nurse capacity study since January 2022 and ignited the idea for the inaugural annual school nurse lobby day in 2023. She made it clear that the data collected from the school nurse capacity study would help drive action for our work in optimizing student health and learning for the future.  The influence she generated behind HB5601 and HR817 led to the Illinois State Board of Education allocating a school nurse capacity study and provide funding of $350,000.  Her dedication to the nursing profession, strong involvement with other nursing organizations, leadership roles within nursing, and commitment to the improvement of public health is unwavering and most deserving of the nurse influencer award.

The 2023 Student Nurse of the Year Award was presented to Liliana Trespalacios. The student nurse of the year award recognizes an outstanding student nurse who exemplifies compassion, exceptional promise in clinical expertise, and academic achievement- the underpinnings of nursing excellence. Liliana is an ideal student nurse who has resilience and dedication in this world, filled with challenges. She has been on an amazing journey at Herzing university. Despite the financial burden and the demands of balancing two jobs, she made the courageous decision to return to school amidst a global pandemic after a decade-long absence from the academic world. She has been a certified medical assistant for over a decade pre-covid. She is an active student member of an ANA-Illinois affiliate, the Hispanic Nurses Illinois chapter, NAHN-Illinois. Despite the post-covid-19 challenges, she approached her academic responsibilities with unwavering seriousness and dedication. Through countless hours of studying and perseverance, she embraced her nursing curriculum and consistently excelled, proudly earning a place on the president’s and dean’s lists. This commitment to excellence in academia has been recognized by several scholarships, such as the strive scholarship awarded by Herzing university and the NAHN Illinois scholarship in 2022, followed by the honor of being named an Abbott scholar by National in July 2023. She is a mentee of an incredible network of individuals who believe in her, support her, and carry her when needed. Liliana has a heart for service beyond the classroom, she has a passion for serving and giving back to the community.

Jennifer Sandoval was presented the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Scholarship Award was created to intentionally invest in the professional development of nurse leaders that have been historically and systematically marginalized in nursing. As the 2023 Award recipient, Jennifer will receive funding to support her attendance at the DEI Leadership Institute American Association of Colleges of Nursing.