Notes from the Dean's Desk


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Name: Marie Ann Marino, EdD, RN, FAAN
Position: Dean and Professor, Jefferson College of Nursing

JCN Helps Empower Girls Through Mentorship, Secures Recognition as Apple Distinguished School

This fall, as our slow emergence from the COVID-19 cloud continued, we celebrated two strong examples of Jefferson College of Nursing’s well-deserved reputation for innovation in learning. In November, JCN was recognized as an Apple Distinguished School – the global technology company’s designation for institutions that demonstrate Apple’s vision for learning with technology.

Schools with this distinction are centers of innovation, leadership, and educational excellence. During the three-year designation, we will share our stories and successes with educators from other institutions of higher education through events hosted in collaboration with Apple Education teams. This is an exciting opportunity for JCN to demonstrate its leadership while also learning how our peer institutions approach today’s challenges in preparing students for careers in health care.

One of our initiatives that certainly deserves the spotlight centers on the sometimes-difficult physical and emotional changes that everyone faces during adolescence. More than the natural changes common to every human being are layered identity issues related to personal characteristics and circumstances such as race, class, ethnicity and sexual orientation. For the half of our population that is female, research shows the stressors are even greater than for young men, with young women more likely to deal with higher rates of depression, anxiety, mood disorders and eating disorders.

Among the leading researchers and activists in this field is JCN’s Dr. Shawana S. Moore, who directs our Women’s Health Gender Related Nurse Practitioner Program. Mentorships and other initiatives provided through her team’s Girls Empowerment Program help teens build confidence while also providing resources and information on maintaining physical and mental health.

The six-week summer program targeting young women between the ages of 12 and 14 has been implemented at schools in Somerdale, NJ, and Philadelphia. Recognizing that COVID-19 would put additional stress on its young participants, the program held fast on virtual platforms using iPads providing to the young participants and plans to return to on-site program at schools during 2022.

Dr. Moore’s team focuses its efforts on creativity, education, self-esteem and confidence, leadership, mentorship and health. Each of the 5-10 students in a six-week session is paired with a mentor drawn from nurse practitioners in training here at Jefferson. Prospective mentees are recommended by school counselors who focus their searches on girls from vulnerable and underserved communities.

“Our goal is to help prevent negative outcomes like mental health disorders,” Dr. Moore said. “As we expand the scope to other schools, we can gather and provide more data that shows that mentorship can be a significant and positive influence on young women."

The Girls Empowerment Program is one of the ways JCN – partly as a result of our pandemic experiences – is putting an ever-greater focus on community-level programs that make a difference in peoples' lives.

Dr. Moore knows how much a caring and committed mentor can change one young life. As an adolescent in Camden, NJ, she was pointed to various enrichment programs offered by the Prophecy Club at Camden High School and the Girls Excelling in Math and Science Summer Program at Rutgers University.

That mentoring supplemented the guidance her parents provided “as my first mentors,” she said, and supported her personal and professional growth – including her performance as an All-American high school track and field athlete.

As one participant said, simply, “This program gave me hope.” And instilling hope is, of course, one of the cornerstones of every nurse’s work.