NDSU names Student Nurses of the Year in Fargo and Bismarck

Madeline Iversen and Samantha Derner have been named the NDSU School of Nursing’s Student Nurses of the Year for the 2018-19 academic year.

Madeline Iversen, from Battle Lake, Minnesota, was named Student Nurse of the Year at NDSU School of Nursing in Fargo.

When she first came to NDSU as a transfer student in 2015, Iversen wanted to find cures for diseases through microscopes and laboratory equipment. She volunteered in a microbiology lab on campus to gain experience.

“Although my tasks throughout the lab were challenging, rewarding, and resourceful in learning to manage time, there was something that I felt was missing in my experience of research—the patients!” she said.

She found her passion and path to nursing after building on previous challenging experiences of loss during her teen years. Iversen attended M-State in Fergus Falls, Minnesota as a post-secondary student for two years before transferring to NDSU.

“I had the most amazing mentors there who took me under their wing and taught me good study habits and what to do in life in order to be successful,” said Iversen. “Everybody has a story. And everybody can have a difficult story. And really it’s about what you make of it and how you use it to become successful in life. I think the biggest thing for me was turning toward education for a coping mechanism.”

Others helped her and Iversen uses her knowledge and experiences to do the same. She serves as a student mentor in NDSU’s Nursing Skills Lab, where hands-on learning occurs. She also is a mentor in the Rising Scholars program for first-year college students.

“I meet with them one-on-one and we go over lesson plans, what can help them succeed at NDSU and promote really good study and planning habits. I think being a mentor is really important to me because it not only helps other people, but it helps me grow too,” said Iverson.

As part of a gender studies class at NDSU, Iversen co-created Hope Kits that were donated to clients seeking assistance at the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center. She also participated in the American Medical Student Association to advocate for the nursing profession and volunteered at the Health Equipment Recycling Organization.

She said NDSU’s nursing program turned out to be the right fit for her. “At NDSU and within the Fargo community, I have found a sense of belonging and unity,” explains Iversen. “I’ve never felt like a number here. I’ve always felt like I can always go talk to my professors about literally anything.”

When she graduates, Iversen hopes to pursue her Doctor of Nursing Practice/Family Nurse Practitioner degree from NDSU. She wants to become a primary care provider helping patients in a rural setting in the Midwest.

Photo of Samantha Derner

Samantha Derner is a senior in nursing at the NDSU School of Nursing at Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota. Her childhood experience set her on her path to nursing.

“I spent most of my childhood in a clinic/hospital setting,” said Derner. “I had many amazing nurses that not only provided me the best possible care, but also inspired me to want to become a nurse. Each and every day I strive to be the nurse that they were to me.”

Derner has received scholarships and volunteers in her community. She also served as a direct support professional with Easter Seals Goodwill North Dakota, specializing in working with kids with autism.

“From this experience, I learned that when you have a pediatric patient, you are not only providing care for them, but their loved ones as well. This job only fueled my desire to one day become a pediatric oncology nurse,” said Derner.

Her experience includes starting a study program for nursing students to help create community among graduating classes. She also worked as a certified nursing assistant in a long-term care facility.

“Samantha has been described as a student who leads by example,” said Wendy Kopp, associate professor of practice and director of NDSU School of Nursing at Sanford Health in Bismarck. “One of Samantha’s strongest qualities as a leader is humility,” said Kopp.

Derner said she chose NDSU’s nursing program in Bismarck for its small class sizes and personal attention. “The staff here are exceptional, and I can truly see they want me to succeed not only within the nursing program, but in my future endeavors,” said Derner.

A native of LeSueur, Minnesota, Derner hopes to work in pediatric oncology or labor and delivery when she graduates.

Student Nurse of the Year candidates are nominated by NDSU faculty. Fellow students vote for the top three candidates and professionals in the community make the final selection.

Additional finalists for NDSU Student Nurse of the Year include Madison Brenamen and Ashley Laine in Fargo, and Heather Roy and Haley Gullickson in Bismarck.

The NDSU School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions provides bachelor’s and graduate nursing education to advance knowledge of nursing, demonstrate leadership, and meet the needs of a diverse society. Campus and online classes are offered, with sites in Fargo and in Bismarck.
As a student-focused, land grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

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