Deborah E. Trautman Future Nurse Leader Scholarship

foundation for academic nursing | American Association of colleges of nursing


Funded by Liaison International, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN’s) partner in NursingCAS, this scholarship and leadership development program was created in honor of AACN’s President and CEO Dr. Deborah Trautman. 


This scholarship is designed to recognize graduate nursing students who aspire to leadership positions in academic nursing. 

Scholarship Details:

  • Total Amount: $3,500
  • $2,000 for educational expenses, sent directly to the student.
  • Scholarship recipient will have the opportunity to participate in one of AACN’s student-focused conferences and a virtual leadership experience with Dr. Trautman and other nursing leaders.
  • Up to $1,500 of the scholarship award will be used to cover travel expenses for the conference.

Eligibility Criteria

With two awards available each year, this scholarship is open to students in master’s or doctoral nursing programs offered at AACN member schools affiliated with NursingCAS, the nation’s only centralized application service for nursing programs. Students must illustrate high academic achievement and list past experiences that show a commitment to academic nursing. Applicants must be currently enrolled and in good standing at their school of nursing. They must also be members of AACN’s Graduate Nursing Student Academy (membership is free).

Application Process

All applicants must submit:

  • A scholarship application (view the details here), including biographical information and contact information for a faculty advisor
  • A concise essay (no more than 500 words) outlining career achievements, desire to aspire to a future leadership position in academia, and your vision for academic nursing
  • A CV or resume that includes key milestones related to your leadership and career development (i.e. conference attendance, poster presentations, publications, etc.)
  • Goals (3-4 bullets) for what you hope to achieve during the leadership development experience with Dr. Trautman
  • Two letters of recommendation, including one from the nursing school dean or director
  • A signed commitment statement agreeing to complete the 3-day leadership development component of this program. Failure to complete this requirement will forfeit your scholarship funding.

2023 Application Cycle is Now Closed
The next application cycle will open on August 30, 2024. 

Contact: If you have any questions, please contact Foundation Coordinator, Alexa Betances at

Previous Recipients

2024 Recipients

Amit "Mickey" DhirAmit “Mickey” Dhir
PhD Student
Johns Hopkins University

Amit “Mickey” Dhir, MBA, MSN, NP-C, AAHIVS is an Infectious disease Nurse practitioner and a PH.D. student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. His clinical practice specializes in HIV/STI management and prevention, and primary care for LGBTQIA+ populations. As a leader and community advocate, he has partnered with local organizations like Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) and U equals U (Undetectable equals untransmissible) campaign to deliver messages to inform the communities in Maryland about HIV disease management and prevention. In his PH.D. studies, Mickey is exploring the Acceptability and Impact of Long-acting (LA) Injectable PrEP among same gender loving men in Baltimore. In addition to his research endeavors, Mickey takes on a leadership role with the goal of addressing health disparities. He actively involves clinicians in recognizing the significance and implementing evidence-based HIV prevention care models. In addition to his contributions to medicine, education, and community work, he is a commissioner in the Maryland Governor’s office of LGBTQIA+ affairs, where he is working to address issues of access to HIV medication and prevention services. Embracing his leadership journey in academia and clinical medicine, Mickey stands humbled and honored to be the recipient of the prestigious Deborah E. Trautman Future Nurse Leader Scholarship and looks forward to further refining his leadership skills under the mentorship of Dr. Deborah Trautman.

Karla KerkoveKarla Kerkove
PhD Student
University of Nebraska Medical Center

Karla Kerkove is a first-year Ph.D. student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). She received her master’s in nursing education and holds two national certifications as a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) and Critical Care Nurse (CCRN). Karla has served as a change agent, introducing diverse teaching strategies to promote the growth of newly licensed registered nurses and enhanced collaboration amongst expert nurses. She has integrated innovative classroom teaching strategies for in-person and virtual learning across a diverse student body. Additionally, she has assisted in helping to advance students through service-learning experiences that have guided a deeper understanding of how social determinants of health impact health disparities, bias, and health outcomes. Recent leadership experiences have introduced her to the needs and challenges within the profession and have strengthened her ability to advocate for nurses at all academic levels. Karla is honored to receive the Deborah E. Trautman Future Nurse Leader Scholarship. This scholarship and experience opportunity will support her area of research in correlating social determinants of health, structural competency, and health equity within nursing curriculum. Additionally, she looks forward to newfound opportunities for advocacy in healthcare policy, academic policy, and fostering visionary leadership.

2023 Recipients

Nkemdilim "Kelly" Diaz Nkemdilim "Kelly" Diaz
DNP Student
Winona State University

Nkemdilim “Kelly” Diaz is a DNP student at Winona State University with a focus in Family Practice. After graduating with honors from her baccalaureate program Kelly began serving as an instructor and preceptor for new graduates and student nurses. Her work focused on helping refugee and immigrant community members access affordable training toward certified nursing assistant licensure. In 2019, she served on an interdisciplinary medical mission team in Central America. Kelly is a member of AACN's Graduate Nursing Student Academy (GNSA), which has sparked her interest in healthcare policy, advocacy, and professional development. As the recipient of the AACN’s Deborah E. Trautman Future Nurse Leader scholarship, Kelly is thrilled for the opportunity to further develop her leadership skills and continue to champion the nursing profession while inspiring others to do the same. 

Rita Win KempRika Win Kemp
DNP Student
Medical University of South Carolina

Rika Win Kemp is in the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at the Medical University of South Carolina. Rika's background is in labor and delivery, postpartum, and women's surgical nursing, and she is committed to providing holistic and integrative psychiatric care. Prior to attending nursing school at Emory University, she studied international health and Spanish at Clemson University and continues to immerse herself in community health settings. As a refugee herself, she found her skill in caring and advocating for underserved and underrepresented populations. While at Emory University, Rika was awarded the prestigious Excellence in Leadership Award and strives to create meaningful change that supports her nursing colleagues. Her journey to her DNP sprung from her love of educating patients and serving as a mentor for nursing students. Rika believes that shared knowledge is power and is honored to be learning from Dr. Trautman this summer.

2022 Recipients

Headshot of Madalyn BaczkowskiMadalyn Baczkowski
DNP Student
University of Michigan

Madalyn Baczkowski is in the Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at the University of Michigan located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has worked as a registered nurse for five years primarily in cardiology with a focus on cardiothoracic surgery post-operative care. She worked for two years as a travel nurse and enjoyed working across the country, meeting different providers and hospital staff, and seeing how different units ran and treated patients. She has been working at a local community college as a clinical instructor and greatly enjoys education, especially for undergraduate nursing students. She began her journey towards a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree because of the opportunities to advance within her career as well as share her experiences through education. Madalyn looks forward to her future career paths and is expected to graduate in May of 2023. Madalyn looks forward to working with Dr. Trautman this summer and advancing her leadership skills.

headshot of Amy HuAmy Hu
DNP Student
San Jose State University

Amy Hu, MSN, RN, CCRN is a second-year DNP student at San Jose State University (SJSU). Amy’s evolution into nursing was not a traditional one. In 1999, Amy obtained her first degree in Business Administration from SJSU and started her career in Marketing. Realizing a deeper need to help others, she went back to school to obtain an Associate Degree in Nursing from Ohlone College. In 2012, while working full time and raising a family, Amy obtained her MSN in Nursing Education from Sonoma State University graduating with honors. After 13 years of medical-surgical and critical care experience and 7 years of academic teaching experience, Amy transitioned to the role of Professional Development Specialist. Currently, she coordinates John Muir Health’s Nurse Residency and Simulation programs. During her time at John Muir Health she was awarded the Nightingale Award for Learning and Development (2019), Magnet Nurse of the Year (2019), and most recently the Nightingale Award for Innovation and Evidence Based Practice (2022). Amy was also an EBP Fellow and implemented a “Quiet Room to Reduce ICU Nurse Burnout” (2018). Amy’s DNP project is focused on evaluating the impact of EBP curriculum in a Nurse Residency program. Amy is passionate about nursing education and developing the nurses of tomorrow. With experience in clinical and academic education, she is eager to develop stronger collaboration between academia and practice. Amy is humbled and honored to receive the Deborah E. Trautman Future Nurse Leader Scholarship. The leadership experience will be one that Amy carries throughout her career.

2021 Recipients

Karina Strange headshotKarina Strange
BS to PhD Student
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Karina Strange is a public health nurse and a second-year BSN-PhD student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Karina earned her BA in Cultural Anthropology at Vassar College (2007). Karina has pursued her interests in cross-cultural teaching, learning, and community service by serving in AmeriCorps (2007) and the United States Peace Corps (Bulgaria, 2009 – 2012). During her Peace Corps service, Karina collaborated with fellow volunteers and with Bulgarian counterparts to teach English and to create sustainable youth development projects. Karina holds a BSN from the University of Louisville (2016), where she received the President’s Outstanding Graduate award. Since 2017, Karina has worked at Family Health Centers, a federally qualified clinic that aims to promote health equity in Louisville. While working, Karina is studying full-time for her PhD in Nursing and her graduate certificate in Nursing Education. Her primary research interests include mental and spiritual health needs of culturally diverse older adults. Karina is honored to receive the Deborah E. Trautman Future Nurse Leader Scholarship and will apply this leadership experience to her doctoral study and future research endeavors.    

Taylor Bell headshotTaylor Bell
BSN to DNP Student
University of Florida

Taylor J. Bell, BSN, RN is a second-year DNP-PMHNP student at the University of Florida. In 2016, Taylor obtained his first degree from the University of Florida in Spanish with a focus in Linguistics. After taking a gap year to volunteer at UF Health and work as a Language Assistant for the UF English Language Institute, Taylor applied and was accepted to the UF Accelerated BSN program, where he began his journey in nursing. During his BSN studies, Taylor actively sought out opportunities for scholarship and academic leadership. He was selected to be part of UF’s Engaging Multiple communities of BSN students in Research and Academic Curricular Experiences (EMBRACE) Program where he participated in and disseminated research with his mentor, Dr. Leslie Parker. He also served as a peer tutor and mentor for incoming BSN students. After graduation, Taylor worked in neurosurgery and orthopedics but soon realized that his passions lay elsewhere. Taylor spent the next year continuing his bedside work and decided to apply to graduate school. In 2019, Taylor was accepted into UF’s DNP program in the FNP track. During the first year of the program, Taylor realized that mental healthcare was his true calling. He transitioned from the FNP track to the PMHNP track and obtained a position in inpatient psychiatry. Taylor has expanded his skillset by completing a 40-hour crisis counseling training and working as a volunteer phone crisis counselor in his community. Taylor has also continued his commitment to scholarship during his graduate studies by working as a graduate teaching assistant and research assistant within his college. Taylor’s professional interests include ethnic, sexual, and gender minority health disparities, LGBTQ+ mental healthcare, and the incorporation of comprehensive LGBTQ+ and ethnic minority educational interventions into nursing education. After graduation, he plans to complete a PMHNP residency program to deepen his clinical acumen in mental healthcare. As a first-generation child of Jamaican immigrants, Taylor is humbled and honored to be one of the recipients of the Deborah E. Trautman Future Nurse Leader Scholarship. This opportunity not only provides him with financial support for his studies but also allows him to further develop his strong desire and knack for leadership and change in healthcare.