Tag Archives: Cara Wiley

Nursing Staff and Administration Receive SAERA Awards

Photo courtesy of BYU Human Resources

By Jessica Tanner

Three of our incredible staff and administration have recently been recipients of the Staff and Administrative Employee Recognition (SAERA) Award: Kathy Whitenight, Cherie Top, and Cara Wiley. These amazing women have displayed levels of continual learning, innovation, and care that have improved the College of Nursing and BYU. The University-sponsored SAERA Award recognizes those who have shown competency, respect for sacred resources, integrity, teamwork, exceeding customer expectation, respect for all individuals, innovation and accountability. These women have definitely achieved that.

Kathy Whitenight

Kathy Whitenight

Competency: Striving for excellence and sharpening skills on a continuous basis, 2018.

“As an assistant dean, Kathy Whitenight is essential to the workings of the college of Nursing,” writes Dean Patricia Ravert, who nominated her for the award in 2018. On receiving the award Whitenight reports, “I know when other people are getting the awards but I had no idea I was submitted. So it was a big surprise and really an honor to get it.”

There were several reasons why Dean Ravert nominated Whitenight in the competency category. Whitenight has kept up with legal matters, managed updates in physical facilities, and overseen human resources.  Another major department she oversees is Risk Management, where she helps students get the care they need in case of incident or injury. In this duty, Whitenight demonstrates personal care to each student. “They have my cellphone; they can call me 24/7,” she explains. “I’ve only gotten one call in the last year at 3:00 a.m. but I want them to that. I’d rather have them do that than not get the care they need and the financial coverage.” Whitenight keeps up on policies and procedures to help students avoid potential problems.

On Whitenight’s wall hangs James C. Christensen’s painting The Widow’s Might. “I have this picture on the wall,” she explains, “because…most of the things [we do] are done through tithing dollars. And that’s the widow’s mite.” Working with finances, Whitenight handles sacred resources with great care and respect.

Whitenight has to learn continually to keep up with technology and policies. “Each day something new could come in that I’ve never experienced before. And that’s what makes it exciting.”

Cherie Top

Cherie Top:

Exceeding Service Expectations: Serving the needs of others beyond what is expected, 2018

Cherie Top, the Graduate Program and Research Secretary, was awarded for exceeding service expectations. Associate Dean and Professor Jane Lasseter nominated Top after seeing her interact with the students that would come up to apply for the graduate nursing program. “When we have our new applicants coming in they have to do a writing prompt,” Top explains. “And when they come in for their writing prompt we take their photo so that we can use it for the interview…So I make them take a picture up against the wall right next to Jane’s office. In her letter she talked about how I’m really nice to them because they come in and they’re really nervous for the writing prompt.” She helps to put these students at ease as they apply for their future.

Top is also consistently helpful and kind to the other faculty and staff. In fact, the people she gets to work with are her favorite part of her job. “The thing I like most about working here is the environment and the people that we work with. I feel like the staff and the faculty are a really close-knit group but they’re also really inviting.” She immediately felt included when she started working at BYU almost four years ago.

As for receiving the award, Top says, “I was super, super surprised. I didn’t even know they did those awards,” she admits with a laugh. “And they kept it a really good secret—they did it during college assembly and it was just a normal college assembly and I didn’t know it was going to happen.” It was a pleasant surprise, and the clock she received (the SAERA Award trophy) sits shining on her cabinet.

Cara Wiley

Cara Wiley

Innovation: Finding ways to improve products/services to change the way work is accomplished, 2019

Advisement Center Supervisor Cara Wiley was nominated for the SAERA Award by Associate Dean and Associate Professor Katreena Merrill in the innovation category. This was prompted by Wiley’s push for and implementation of an orientation class for first-semester nursing students.

“Before, the students had nothing,” says Wiley. When she became part of BYU nursing advisement, there was no orientation at all for nursing students. An orientation dinner was introduced, but it still was not enough. Wiley remembers, “I researched…other schools here at BYU who have limited enrollment programs, and they had orientation meetings.” It seemed to work for them, so Wiley worked to implemented it in the College of Nursing. It eventually turned into a 390R class so students could have it in their schedules.

“We’re trying to develop emotional intelligence, students’ resiliency, and [also] working on perfectionism,” Wiley explains.  “It’s literally meant to orient them, [to say], hey, this is what it’s going to be like in the nursing program.” Students are able to meet future faculty and learn about a wide variety of subjects. Wiley reports it is a work in progress. “We just keep tweaking it, trying to make it better, trying to help them come in and learn how to be resilient in the first semester so that when they hit the harder semesters, they can handle it.”

Wiley has enjoyed being a part of the orientation class. “It’s nice for me, for the advisement center, to be involved in this orientation class because the students get to know us.” It also brought about the nomination for the SAERA Award. Though she was shocked to get the award, she was also grateful. “I haven’t gotten an award like that in my 14 years of being here and it was really nice to be recognized by my boss…We’ve been doing a lot of changes, and now we’re seeing the results.”


Utah Advising Association Unites Behind BYU’s Cara Wiley

By Jessica Tanner

Students everywhere benefit from a group of experts who help guide them in their path to graduation. They help students learn about courses, internships, and opportunities that will give them invaluable experience. They are academic advisers.

The Utah Advising Association is a network of academic advisers throughout the state. They meet monthly to address current issues and interests and look forward to an annual two-day conference. This year the organization is headed by BYU’s Cara Wiley. Wiley is the College of Nursing’s Advisement Center Supervisor and has served as a committee member, been the BYU representative, and was president elect last year. This year the committee nominated her to lead as president.

Wiley takes up the responsibility with enthusiasm and looks forward to improving where she can. “If I’m ever in charge of things, I like changing things up,” she says. This year she plans to implement some changes in the conference—introducing mini presentations and poster presentations as opposed to only having 50-minute sessions. It will allow for more information and variety, as well as train academic advisers in public speaking.

“We are in a caring profession, just like nursing.”

At the conference, advisers will speak on a wide range of topics. “It’s all centered around helping students…and being able to be an effective adviser,” Wiley says. Presenters speak on topics such as bias, diversity, and communication skills as well as helping students manage stress. Speakers also encourage advisers to understand their own self-care. Wiley explains, “We are in a caring profession, just like nursing. And it’s hard to care for others if you aren’t doing well yourself.” Advisers can look forward to learning more about these and other topics by coming to the UAA conference in May.

There are many reasons Wiley loves this opportunity to lead UAA. For one, she is a planner at heart. “I love planning things and planning events,” she shares. Another benefit is networking with fellow advisers.  “It’s good to know what’s going on at the other universities across the state and the problems they’re facing,” she says. “We share our best practices with each other.” Because of UAA, advisers throughout the state can teach and learn from one another.

Wiley also finds joy in representing BYU. “It’s nice to work on relations with other schools,” she says. She also loves being involved in training, looks forward to getting more leadership experience, and enjoys the variety UAA adds to her life. “If you do the same thing day-in and day-out it could get boring.” She looks forward to the challenges and growth that come with the job. Next year Wiley will be the past president, who advises the current president in their responsibilities. For now, however, Wiley will continue make her mark.