College of Nursing students receive scholarships from Black Nurses Association of Greater St. Louis

by | Nov 20, 2023

Scholarship recipients Bisa Adero, Bright Iheme and Hanifa Mohamed, all BSN students, are passionate about improving health in minority communities.
Black Nurses Association of Greater St. Louis scholarship recipients Bright Iheme and Bisa Adero

Bright Iheme (at left) and Bisa Adero were two of three UMSL College of Nursing students, along with Hanifa Mohamed, to receive scholarships from the Black Nurses Association of Greater St. Louis. (Photos by Derik Holtmann)

Bisa Adero didn’t find the essay portion of the scholarship application from the Black Nurses Association of Greater St. Louis particularly difficult. Writing comes pretty naturally to the University of Missouri–St. Louis student, who was named St. Louis’ Youth Poet Laureate in 2016.

A student in the College of Nursing’s accelerated BSN program, Adero wrote about her dreams of one day opening a small clinic to provide doula and nurse services and uplift women of color. She also shared suggestions to help the association grow, including creating a youth collective of Black nurses across universities so that younger students interested in pursuing careers in nursing could meet and connect with each other.

Still, she was relieved and grateful to receive the scholarship amid her work in the accelerated program, which she said has been fast-paced but fun as she’s started working in clinicals and skills labs. A certified doula, Adero has always known she wanted to be a nurse, and felt the accelerated BSN program would be the next step in setting her up to make more change in her community. Eventually, she hopes to become a nurse midwife and feels that the skills she’s learning in the program will help make her dreams of opening that clinic a reality.

“The program really instills a lot of professionalism,” she said. “My perfectionist type of energy is kind of what they want. They know that a lot of us have some experience within the realm of a hospital, and I think they’re just looking to advance how we do things, how we understand things, how we decide to create solutions for those things. It’s just the advance in our existing basic understanding so that we’re excellent nurses once we get into the hospital.”

Adero was one of three UMSL nursing students to receive a scholarship from the organization, along with Bright Iheme and Hanifa Mohamed. According to the organization, the scholarships recognize “deserving LPNs, RNs, Advanced Practice Nurses, and nursing students committed to serving their communities, passionate about improving the health of the minority population and contributing to the mission of the BNA of Greater St. Louis.”

Mohamed, a senior in the BSN program, grew up thinking she wanted to be a doctor but said that dream was nipped in the bud quickly when she realized how costly medical school is. When she took an intro to nursing course in high school, she realized that nursing would actually be a better fit for her with its focus on hands-on care and direct relationships with patients.

Over the years, Mohamed has been able to build her nursing skill set by learning from the experiences of her peers in the BSN program and getting hands-on experience in the field. She serves as the president of UMSL’s Student Nurses Association, having worked her way up to the role on the executive board after joining the organization as a preclinical representative.

She’s worked at Mercy Rehab in Chesterfield and currently works at St. Luke’s Hospital, and she said working with another nurse during an externship this summer proved to be a particularly impactful experience. She was able to take on more responsibilities including talking to doctors, giving patients medications and educating them on their care plans, which helped solidify what she wants to do.

“The feeling that I get after taking care of patients and knowing that I’ve made some sort of a difference for them is really enlightening and very humbling,” Mohamed said. “I’ve been with patients who have been through their worst times possible because I’ve been on the oncology cancer floor, and just being able to care for them and making them feel like they’re just like everyone else, even though they’ve got this life-changing diagnosis, being their advocate is really inspiring. I think a lot of times people tend to give up in moments like that, but being that push for them and helping them see the glass half full instead of half empty is something that my nurse preceptor always told me and so that’s the mindset I would try to have. I learned a lot in school, but when you’re actually on the floor and you’re interacting with other nurses, you get to learn new techniques and new tricks and ways to do things and advice that nurses would give me that they have used to go about their day.”

After graduating next month, Mohamed will continue working on the oncology floor at St. Luke’s Hospital, and hopes to potentially return to school for a master’s degree down the road.

Iheme, also a senior in the BSN program, has known that she wanted to go into the medical field since she was about 5 or 6 years old. Like Mohamed, she initially thought she’d be a doctor, but watching her two older sisters work as nurses helped solidify that nursing was the right path for her.

In her second-to-last semester in the BSN program at UMSL, she’s refining her study habits for her coursework. She’s implementing the Pomodoro technique for studying, taking short, 5-minute breaks during study sessions, and making sure to give equal amount of time to her my courses. She also benefited from the Nurse Externship Program, a collaboration between the UMSL College of Nursing and BJC HealthCare that she believes is a great learning experience that every UMSL nursing student should consider.

“I gained a lot of confidence and communication skills by working hand in hand with my preceptor on the cardiac unit at Barnes Jewish Hospital,” she said. “It made a great difference on how I understood and approached different case scenarios as a nursing student because I got the opportunity to understand the ‘why’ behind the interventions that nurses implement.”

After graduating, she hopes to work as a nurse practitioner and work in the field before going back to continue her education. She’s grateful to UMSL for giving her a solid foundation in her nursing career. 

“In general, with every school of nursing, it’s really challenging and rigorous but I really appreciate that UMSL is a place that I’ve found my feet and I’m progressing on my journey,” Iheme said. “I have all the support that I need. It’s accommodating. I love that UMSL accommodates all types of students – they care. UMSL is inclusive of diversity and everybody’s welcome. Everybody’s taken care of. I am really progressing here and I love the fact that I chose UMSL.”

Heather Riske

Heather Riske