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During the Florida Nursing Students Association (FNSA) Convention in Kissimmee, Fla., on Monday, Oct. 23 and Tuesday, Oct. 24, the South Florida State College (SFSC) Student Nurses Association was presented the Diamond Chapter Award. The FNSA is a student-run organization that represents over 5,000 nursing students across Florida.
“The Diamond Chapter Award is a prestigious award given to chapters that have demonstrated excellence in education, service, advocacy, and leadership,” said Candy Jones, the SFSC Student Nurses Association adviser and Nursing instructor. “All colleges across Florida are eligible as long as they meet the requirements.”
To win the Diamond Chapter Award, college chapters must meet specific criteria. The college must: be a member of the FNSA or National Students Nurses Association (NSNA), submit an annual report and a portfolio of all activities and achievements that it acquired over the past year, participate in FNSA events and initiatives throughout the year, promote nursing as a profession, and mentor new students. For example, SFSC’s second-year Nursing students will mentor its first-year Nursing students. Also, members of the chapters must engage in community health service projects and legislation.
“For a small college, going up against larger institutions, such as Keiser University, the University of Central Florida, and Florida Atlantic University, this is significant for us,” Jones said.
During the Convention, three SFSC Nursing students were installed as members of the 2023-24 FNSA executive board. Mikala Armioia is now president of FNSA and serves as the SFSC Student Nurses Association president. Clara Sooknanan begins her second year as second vice president of FNSA and is vice president of the SFSC chapter. As FNSA second vice president, she will be responsible for planning next year’s FNSA convention. M’Alee Sauvey is the FNSA treasurer and serves as treasurer of the SFSC chapter.
“The students learn about health care policy and get to experience legislation through the executive board,” Jones said. “And they have a house of delegates. This year, SFSC had four delegates in the house, who can speak for SFSC and vote on resolutions that are written by other students. Typically, resolutions are concerned with something that will improve health care as a whole. The students can speak on the pros and cons of the issue and then they vote on whether to pass the resolution or not.”
Because the SFSC chapter is relatively small and its students hold three positions on the executive board, SFSC Nursing students have more of a voice than they might otherwise. “Student resolutions can be anywhere from something to do with Nursing students to changes they would like to see in nursing,” Jones said. “For instance, one resolution was about caring for inmates. They can write resolutions and present them when they go to Tallahassee or Washington, D.C. to try to make a change. So, our students could potentially have an influence in Florida for Nursing students or nursing as a whole. We can also collaborate with other nursing school programs just by having those members on the board. And the students can have an influence on the advancement of nursing schools and changing policies.”