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
Dean Marino

Mentorship to Empower

Assuring that JCN is an active and relevant contributor to the life and well-being of the Philadelphia community beyond our campus has been a key focus of mine since becoming dean. We can’t just be a place to prepare nurses for their work as healers; the college’s mission also involves going to the streets, homes, schools, and places of business where people face myriad physical and mental health challenges and addressing the needs we find.

And so I have encouraged our faculty to seek opportunities outside the college where they can bring new approaches and new solutions to issues facing the community. Dr. Shawana S. Moore, Director of JCN’s Women’s Health-Gender Related Nurse Practitioner Program, has found one significant opportunity in helping girls–particularly in underserved communities–set high goals for their future and find the self-confidence to achieve them.

Dr. Moore’s girls’ empowerment program in Somerdale, N.J.
Dr. Moore’s girls’ empowerment program in Somerdale, N.J.

Despite the steadily-higher numbers of women securing a wide range of jobs over recent decades, there remains evidence that many adolescent females lack the faith in themselves to focus on and work toward high professional goals. Under Dr. Moore’s Girl’s Empowerment program, girls ages 13 and 14 at two Philadelphia area schools are receiving the tools they need to build self-esteem, self-awareness, and self-confidence. And it establishes for those girls models in the form of mentors among select JCN students who are studying to be women’s health nurse practitioners.

Through one of several grants she has secured to conduct research and foster change in this area, Dr. Moore created a girls’ empowerment program at a middle school in Somerdale, NJ during the 2019-2020 school year. The initiative linked JCN’s graduate students to educate mentees about their health and well-being. 

The goal was to answer the question: Does a female adolescent mentoring program impact confidence and self-concept within teenage females?  Additionally, her hope is that some of the girls involved will want to become nurses.

The six-week Sommerdale program focused on six core values: creativity, confidence/self-esteem, leadership, health, mentoring and education. Each participant was assigned a mentor from JCN and an Apple iPad to facilitate each session, and kept a personal reflection journal. Participants were divided into two groups of 15 participants each, meeting weekly. 

More than two thirds of participants were girls of color. Results suggest that girls emerged from the program with increased self-confidence in their school work and social interactions, that they were more assured of their romantic appeal, self-worth, and appearance. Dr. Moore and her mentoring team received positive feedback from many participants, such as: “This program gave me hope.” “I am excited about my future.” and “Thank you for helping me be more confident.” It was clear that these girls, products of neighborhoods where hope often is limited, had gained new, more positive perspectives about themselves—along with a clearer understanding of pathways to pursue beyond high school.

Dr. Moore created the girls’ empowerment program during the 2019-2020 school year. The girls’ empowerment program began during the 2019-2020 school year.

The program was so successful last year that it was renewed for the 2020-2021 school year. A new group of 24 students (again, ages 13 and 14) will participate at Julia de Burgos School, with a specific focus on Latinas. Back at Somerdale Park School, there will be 20 students in the program.

Dr. Moore now is exploring creating a mentoring and leadership program for boys.

In an article titled “Coming Full Circle” in Jefferson’s recent Innovator magazine Dr. Moore talks about this program: “And how do you impact society?” Dr. Moore asks. And she answers: “By being able to give your gifts to others. By doing good for other people. For me, it’s making sure Jefferson College of Nursing leaves an impact on all the communities we serve. That’s really all I hope for.”