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About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing more than 850 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. 



AACN Announces New Members of the GNSA Leadership Council

Published September 07, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 7, 2017 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is pleased to announce that six nursing students have been selected to serve two-year terms on the national Leadership Council of the Graduate Nursing Student Academy (GNSA). Following a call for applications, which was disseminated to more than 500 U.S. nursing schools with master's and/or doctoral degree programs, the following individuals were selected to serve on the council: 

  • Tamu Abreu, Texas Woman's University
  • Yasmine Adem, University of Colorado, Denver
  • Jung Amaral, Johns Hopkins University
  • Catherine Pantik, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • Heather Raley, University of Louisville
  • Brandon Varilek, South Dakota State University 

(pictured from left to right)

These newly elected leaders will join four continuing GNSA council members who are serving their final terms, including: 

  • Cassandra Godzik, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Jo Ann Otts, Loyola University New Orleans
  • Tonya L. Smith, Ohio University
  • Alexander Wrynn, Robert Morris University

(pictured from left to right)

"AACN applauds these graduate nursing students for their commitment to advancing the GNSA's mission to foster collaboration, innovation, and excellence in academic nursing and health care," said AACN Board Chair Juliann Sebastian. "We are excited to work with these student leaders on several new initiatives this year, including the GNSA's inaugural national conference in February and a virtual career fair for graduate-prepared nurses."

The new members of the Leadership Council will continue the important work of the previous council and help develop future strategic goals, work towards developing a successful national conference, and work towards growing the GNSA in numbers and engagement. The current council includes one entry-level MSN student and nine doctoral students – five Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students, three PhD students, and one dual DNP-PhD student. Council members represent all regions of the country, with seven enrolled in public institutions and three enrolled in private schools.  

The GNSA provides high-value programs, services, and resources to nursing students enrolled in master's and doctoral programs. Formed by AACN in 2012, the GNSA continues to experience significant growth. This free membership group provides services that help meet the professional development needs of graduate nursing students as they prepare for careers as faculty members, researchers, advanced practice registered nurses, policy experts, healthcare administrators, and other roles in nursing leadership.  

Open to all graduate students enrolled in AACN-affiliated schools, members have access to a free Webinar series on topics of particular interest to graduate students, including career horizons in nursing, leadership development, grant-writing, getting published, and securing research funding. Participating students receive monthly updates on funding announcements, leadership opportunities, career advancement resources, graduate study success strategies, and opportunities for public policy engagement through the GNSA Policy Committee. GNSA members can connect with fellow students nationwide through an online collaboration community and a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

Membership in the GNSA is free to all graduate nursing students enrolled in AACN member schools. Find out more about the GNSA and to meet the new Leadership Council.