How to Win Awards and Influence People: Winners of the Phi Kappa Phi Emerging Leader Award

Image courtesy of Slippery Rock University

By Lyndee Johns

Nurses are known by many names: Healers. Problem-solvers. Learners.

The BYU College of Nursing has an additional name for nurses.


“Phi Kappa Phi at BYU invites all colleges to recognize their outstanding students,” says associate professor Dr. Janelle Macintosh, the BYU College of Nursing representative for the campus’ elite honor society Phi Kappa Phi. “For the College of Nursing, we decided to have it be an emerging leadership [award] as the way we can recognize that outstanding student.”

Undergraduate nursing students that are members of Phi Kappa Phi are eligible for the Emerging Leader award. Nursing students can self-nominate or be nominated by fellow students or faculty. The nominator answers two questions about the student: 1) How does the student contribute to the College of Nursing? and 2) Describe the student’s leadership and characteristics that make him or her an emerging leader in nursing.

A committee reviews the responses and ranks them, and then Macintosh reviews the rankings and calculates the averages. The two highest are then selected for the award.

Six nominations were submitted for the 2020 Emerging Leader award. “It was a hard choice this year,” says Macintosh. “It was really, really hard. I wish we could have awarded everybody, but we did not and could not.”

This year, the winners of the Emerging Leader award are fifth-semester students Camille Mendon and Kayla Sylvester.

What made these two stand out?

According to Macintosh, both students excel at the “formal and informal” aspects of leadership.

“Leadership is not just in SNA (Student Nurses Association) or in some type of formal, I-could-put-it-on-my-resume type of leadership, but leadership is also what your peers think of you and how you engage,” says Macintosh. “It’s those intangibles.”

Mendon’s nominator praised Mendon’s devotion for the SNA and for her work as a TA and an RA but referred to her character as her most impressive feature. “In formal and informal leadership roles, Camie shows selflessness, integrity, compassion, and a commitment to excellence . . . Camie is always mindful of others and makes time for meaningful service. She stays true to her values, consistently gives her best effort, and never compromises on the quality of her work. Even when she does not intend to lead, those around her recognize, respect, and aspire to achieve the standards she is setting.”

Sylvester’s nominator lauded her work ethic and reliability. “Kayla is very detailed in whatever she is asked to do. She sets a great example for her peers in the way she goes about fulfilling her responsibilities as a student and an RA. She is quiet, yet confident and always works to the best of her abilities. She is the type of person you can always rely on to fulfill her part of whatever she is asked to do.  She also constantly seeks out further learning opportunities.”

Both students will receive a $300 scholarship.

Mendon and Sylvester are honored to receive the Emerging Leader award.

“I was still surprised that I was chosen though because there are so many amazing students and leaders among my peers,” says Mendon. “This has encouraged me to continue developing my leadership skills and be actively involved in whatever I do in the future; in nursing and otherwise.”

“It means a lot to me to have won this award,” says Sylvester. “I am going to be the first one in my family to graduate from college, so academics have always been something I try to do my best in.”

Macintosh is proud of both students for being such positive representatives of nursing.

“Both of them are amazing women, in this case, who show people and that people notice around them that nursing can be amazing. And nurses should want to change the world and they have the ability to influence other people. I’m so proud of them. They did it.”

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