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I attended the 2022 Friends of the National Institute on Nursing Research (FNINR) NightinGala in Washington, DC this past October. FNINR is an independent, non-profit organization committed to providing resources to support nursing research and advance the National Institute of Nursing Research mission. FNINR hosts the NightinGala event each year. This year, I was one of two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Ph.D. Nursing students invited to attend by UNC-CH Dean Valerie Howard.

This was my first time attending an event of this caliber. I am grateful to Dean Howard for the invitation and to the UNC School of Nursing for their continued support. I must admit I was a bit nervous at first, but then I looked to my left and saw Dr. Cheryl Jones, UNC Hillman Scholar Program Director, smiling at me. At that moment, I knew this surreal phenomenal experience was an example of the “limitless opportunities of nursing science” she described in one of our first meetings.

Attending this event with the support of my UNC School of Nursing and Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation community meant so much to me; it was comforting.

It was deeply gratifying and encouraging to witness the individual and collaborative efforts to advance nursing science and improve health. I was honored to share in the celebrations the accomplishments of leaders in our field.

I connected with other PhD in Nursing students at other institutions, and we have continued cultivating those relationships that were birthed at the 2022 FNINR NightinGala. I would encourage all PhD students to seek opportunities such as this, and in turn, I would encourage faculty and leadership to create such opportunities for students.

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