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Presidential Scholar: Cynthia Urena, RN, Documents History of CSUN Nursing

president jolene koester with presidential scholar cynthia urena

To Incite, Instruct and Inspire

Preparing for the future requires understanding where we have been and what we have accomplished.  This is important in recognizing the relationships between the university and the communities we serve.  Nursing is a fast growing profession with a rich history. Presidential Scholar and BSN student, Cynthia Urena, RN, is working with Nursing Faculty Martha Highfield to gather and archive the written and oral histories of Nursing at CSUN.

Thanks to a grant from Associated Students, and a matching grant from the College, Urena has been able to perform this detective work since last July. She has also assisted in the development of a Standing Advisory Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (SACPHS) approval process, funding proposals, keeping a research log and topic guide for oral histories, and has been performing meaningful analysis of the information she’s been collecting, including the development of a timeline of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). 

The project supports ongoing collaboration and relationships with community healthcare agencies that have a shared history with the nursing program and thus vested interest in continuing to support program success. It also contributes to the Oviatt collections that document history of the San Fernando Valley. The project has increased engagement of BSN alumni with the program.  Also it is an investment in Urena's future academic career.

Higfield says this kind of research provides information that not only helps illustrate research principles to classes, it can serve to inspire students to discover information that is beyond what is most immediately understood in any academic situation.

According to to the American Association for the History of Nursing (AAHN): "History provides current nurses with the same intellectual and political tools that determined nursing pioneers applied to shape nursing values and beliefs to the social context of their times. Nursing history is not an ornament to be displayed on anniversary days….Nursing history is a vivid testimony, meant to incite, instruct and inspire today's nurses."

See Urena's CSUN nursing history project poster.

- Martha Highfield with Jean O'Sullivan