Each year students from across the nation who belong to the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) gather together for their annual meeting.  This year NSNA held its 65th convention from April 4-8, in Dallas, Texas and had more than 2,500 attendees.  Hawaii brought a total of 17 students — nine from the University of Hawaii–Manoa, five from Chaminade University, one from Hawaii Pacific University, and one Hawaii Student Nurses Association (HISNA) representative who also happens to be from Chaminade.

First-year students Brandon Aceret and Brooke Leslie and juniors Caitlin Marie Aningat, Krissie Morris, Mitnework Vanover, and Danielle Balajadia with professors Julie Elting, Ed. D. and Edna Magpantay-Monroe, Ed. D. attended from Chaminade University’s School of Nursing. Balajadia served as the HISNA representative at the convention. The HISNA sponsored Balajadia’s trip, the Ho`oulu STEM Scholarship program sponsored Aceret and Leslie’s trips, and the Chaminade Student Nursing Association sponsored the other students. Students participated in leadership and focus sessions, as well as in social events.  Recruiters for potential employers and graduate schools shared information in a massive exhibit hall.  Some students also presented poster boards, which provided insights on evidence-based practice from hospital to community-based care. The exhibit hall was full of resources for students and faculty members. Students could even get their resumes reviewed.

National Student Nurses Association convention

Nursing students: Danielle Balajadia, Brooke Leslie, and Brandon Aceret

Balajadia attended with extra responsibilities. “As the new incoming president of the Hawaii Student Nurses Association, I wanted to open myself to new opportunities and expand my networking relationships with the nursing profession.  This convention offered numerous networking opportunities with nursing students from different states, vendors, graduate schools and healthcare facilities from across the nation,” she said. “The most valuable takeaway from the convention was learning about how to become a successful leader in our nursing schools and our profession. The convention also allows us to be a voice and be agents of change in the nursing community.” From Guam, Balajadia plans to stay on Oahu after graduation, specialize in pediatrics, and eventually return to Guam to work in her home community.

Chaminade’s Student Nurses Association vice president Aningat loved everything about the NSNA convention and considered it a “once in a lifetime experience.” She shared, “I was given the opportunity to meet and network with other nursing students from various nursing schools across the country while gaining leadership skills and expanding my resume.” From Maui, Aningat was glad that she chose Chaminade’s School of Nursing and was grateful for this added value available to her and other students. “This convention helped me grow as a leader while learning more about myself,” she said. “I truly am pursuing the right career. I love everything about nursing.”

Dr. Magpantay-Monroe pointed out that by expanding students’ minds and exposing them to new learning experiences, students’ horizons were broadened, and this would help them become better nurses in the long run.

Dr. Diane Mancino, Executive Director of NSNA sharing time with Chaminade students

Dr. Diane Mancino (Executive Director, NSNA) talking with Danielle Balajadia and Brooke Leslie

For Aceret and Leslie, it was their first time to a professional convention as well as to be so far from home. For Aceret, it was even his first time to a museum. The two Ho’oulu scholars took advantage of the focus session titled, “Learn to think like a Nurse.”

Leslie was impressed with the quantity of information and resources shared at the breakout session, especially in preparation for the NCLEX. “They talked about how to pass the NCLEX exam and the boundaries of our licenses.  It was filled with a lot of information about what having a nursing license to practice meant.” She took copious notes.

Aceret was also impressed by the focus session. “I learned that our brain can change, and that we have the power to grow our brains. As a nurse, I will be learning a lot.  So through studying and repetition, I will build my existing neural network,” he said. “My nursing knowledge plus critical thinking are two must-have components that I need to make good clinical judgments.  Correct clinical judgments equal a safe, effective nurse,” he emphasized. By the end of the convention, Aceret knew the type of nurse he would like to become and felt that the ER would best fit his personality and skill interests.

Chaminade students at NSNA ConventionNSNA also presented its annual student awards at the convention. State president and Chaminade senior Jeramae Marcellano received the Isabel Hampton Leadership Award for her work with the Hawaii Student Nurses’ Association. This is the second time a Hawaii student has received this national award in the past three years.  Presented to the current or immediate past student nurses’ association state president whose leadership characteristics most resembled those of Isabel Hampton Robb, the award esteems student leaders for their visionary work and organizational skills.  Mrs. Rob was well known for her pioneering work in establishing nursing organizations which became the American Nurses’ Association (ANA), the National League for Nursing (NLN), and the International Council of Nursing (ICN).

Dr. Magpantay-Monroe had served as Hawaii’s faculty consultant and advisor since 2014 when her Chaminade students first asked her to help them resuscitate a Hawaii chapter of the NSNA. Though Chaminade students took the lead, Dr. Magpantay-Monroe highlighted the collaboration among Hawaii’s three schools of nursing. “There is a true sense of collaboration and partnership among schools,” she said. “I have been humbled working with students…Our state student leaders are very creative and truly exemplify characteristics of future leaders.”


Chaminade’s School of Nursing is a four year, full-time undergraduate program that offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The unique program immerses students in nursing preparation with educational curriculum, human-patient simulations, community outreach projects, and service-learning and supervised clinical experiences. The curriculum for our undergraduates program is consistent with the Baccalaureate Essentials of Nursing produced by the American Association of Collegiate Nursing. The nursing program is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.