Congratulations Class of 2024!

We celebrate our exceptional nursing students who graduate today! We’re proud of their dedication, compassion, and hard work! As our graduates embark on this rewarding journey, we hope they continue to inspire and make a profound difference in the lives of those they care for.

Congratulations to this year’s teaching and student honorees!

Student Awardees

Undergraduate Nursing Achievement Award

This award is for a student graduating from the ABSN or BSN program who has shown exceptional qualities during their time in the School of Nursing.  
Ngoc Nguyen, BSN Student

Person smiling at camera“As a first-generation Vietnamese immigrant and college student, earning a Bachelor’s degree is more than just fulfilling the American dream. It represents a journey of determination and resilience fueled by the unwavering support from my community. Inspired by those whom I have met along the way and helped me grow into who I am today, I’m committed to doing the same and giving back to others. I plan to pursue pediatric critical care, with the long-term goal of returning to UWSoN to become a nursing educator, where I hope to continue to empower future generations of aspiring leaders in healthcare.”





Doctor of Nursing Practice Outstanding Student Award

Nhia Yerkes-Vang

The Doctor of Nursing Practice Outstanding Student Award is for a student graduating from the DNP program who best exemplifies the program goals: Leadership, Competency, Clinical Decision Making, and Contributions to the UW School of Nursing.Purple background with person smiling

Nhia completed her DNP in Population Health and Systems Leadership with a Graduate Certificate in Global Health Nursing this Winter. Her career in public health nursing, aimed at improving the health and well-being of communities across the globe, has been driven by her identities as a Hmong refugee, a first-generation student, and a global citizen. She has big dreams of sitting at every table related to health and policy – where nurses and communities are directly and indirectly impacted. Her next adventure will take her to the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in Atlanta, where she will serve as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer (injury detective!).



Master of Science Outstanding Student Award

Libby Shah, MA Student 

Person smilingThe Master of Science Outstanding Student Award is given to the MS student who best exemplifies the program goals: Creativity, Scholarship, Potential in the Profession, and Contributions to the Community. 

Libby Shah is a dedicated registered nurse, with a passion for promoting the professional practice of nursing and best practices for the care of patients. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Washington and is graduating this spring with a Master of Science in Clinical Informatics and Patient Centered Technologies from the UW School of Nursing. Libby is excited to bring all the knowledge and skills she has gained from this program to her new role as a Clinical Informaticist at Bozeman Health to improve clinicians’ interactions with and perception of healthcare technology. While she does not have any immediate future academic plans, she will apply the skills she has learned in finding and evaluating research to inform and guide her work. Her personal motto is “details define the experience” which guides her to remember that there is no aspect too small to focus attention for improvement and that all those details add up to create the overall impression.

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Zih-Ling Wang, PhD Student  Person looking at camera
The Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award recognizes a Nursing Graduate Student who served in a Teaching Assistant role and demonstrated strong teaching effectiveness with the ability to communicate effectively with students and faculty. 

Zih-Ling Wang is currently pursuing a PhD at the School of Nursing. She is passionate about studying mealtime behavior in people living with dementia, particularly to see whether eating experiences, physical strength, or environmental stimulation could improve independence in eating. Zih-Ling is also passionate about nurturing the next generation of nursing scientists.

Dissertation Award in Nursing Science

Person smiling at cameraMihkaila Wickline, PhD Student 

The Dissertation Award in Nursing Science recognizes outstanding achievement in nursing science: Knowledge requisite for the promotion, restoration, and maintenance of health for individuals, families or communities.

Mihkai is a long-time bone marrow transplant (BMT) nurse and has focused her studies on health promotion in BMT survivorship. Additionally, she has dabbled in teaching undergraduate and graduate nursing and working with people in the sex trade. She is interested in the relational aspects of nursing work and loves how narrative medicine creates a platform for understanding the power of the therapeutic nurse-patient relationship. Mihkai is thrilled to be joining the UW SON as an assistant teaching professor beginning next fall. Together with her husband, Mihkai is raising three amazing teenagers and their favorite family activities are basketball and traveling.

DAISY in-training

Alexia Webster, DNP Student  

The DAISY in Training Award recognizes graduating nursing students for the extraordinary care and compassion they show patients and their families. Person smiling at camera

Lexi Webster graduated cum laude from Seattle Pacific University with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2019 and went on to complete nursing residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital while working on the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit. While completing her Doctorate of Nursing Practice, Lexi completed an Advanced Clinical Training Program in Infant Mental Health through the University of Washington’s Barnard Center. Lexi hopes to specialize in perinatal psychiatry and infant mental health with a focus on serving families connected to the foster care system.


Azita Emami Student Leadership in Social Justice Award

Prabina Dahal, DNP Student

The Azita Emami Student Leadership in Social Justice Award honors a graduating UW School of Nursing student who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to social justice in the areas of leadership, scholarship and service.  

Faculty Awards 

DAISY Faculty Award – Nicola Contreras, DNP, RN, CHSE-A  
Award Description: DAISY stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The foundation was established in 1999 by members of the family of Patrick Barnes, who died at the age of 33 of complications of Idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura. The Barnes family believes that nurses are the unsung heroes of our society who deserve far more recognition and honor than they receive. 

Excellence in Clinical Teaching  – Nicola Contreras, DNP, RN, CHSE-A  
Award Description: Respects students as adult and professional learners. Demonstrates compassion, empathy, and patience. Provides safe, supportive, and non-oppressive environments in which to practice and hone clinical skills.  

Excellence in Promoting Diversity through Teaching – Monica R. McLemore PhD, MPH, RN Award Description: Diversity encompasses the attributes of race, ethnicity, cultural background, age, physical ability, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, speakers of English as a Second Language, country of origin, religion, and gender. 

Sandra Eyres Excellence in Graduate Teaching – Cynthia M. Dougherty ARNP, PHD, FAAN, FAHA 
Award Description: The Sandra Eyres Excellence in Graduate Teaching recognizes faculty who consistently stimulate creative and critical thinking. 

Rheba de Tornyay Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching – Nicola Contreras, DNP, RN, CHSE-A  
Award Description: Stimulates creative, critical thinking, student interest, and facilitates productive classroom dynamics. Incorporates research and evidence-based practice in presentations and support materials. Continuously self-reflects and modifies own teaching techniques. Respects and recognizes students as individuals invested in their own learning. 

 UW School of Nursing Research Mentorship Award – Cynthia M. Dougherty ARNP, PHD, FAAN, FAHA; & Sarah Iribarren PhD, RN (2024) 
Award Description: Recognizing a faculty member who made a significant contribution in conducting research in nursing science and practice-based inquiry.