Victoria Conlu

From imposter to empowered
Graduate student gains confidence, reinvests in communities

Not unlike many new graduate students, Victoria Conlu felt like an imposter, as if she didn’t deserve to be here.

When she began the master’s-leadership program at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis in fall 2015, only a few years into her career as a public health nurse, she questioned her qualifications. But, after learning that she would receive scholarship support from people, whom she did not know, coupled with her fellow students’ profound interest in her work with underserved communities, she knew she made the right choice.

“My classmates are so accomplished and all have such amazing vision. I wondered what the admissions committee saw in me. But unlike my undergraduate experience, my peers here really get what I do and are interested in my perspective,” recalls Conlu, who works with Child Welfare Services at the Health and Human Services Agency in Yolo County. “After receiving the National Advisory Council Endowed Scholarship, I felt an intrinsic sense of motivation. It is not a present, it’s an opportunity.”

Conlu redirected her energy, stepped outside of her comfort zone and focused on growing personally, professionally and beyond herself. She wants her success at the School of Nursing to be more than a degree. For her, graduate study is an act of service to the vulnerable populations — women and children — she serves and to whom she will take back her newfound knowledge and perspectives.

“As health care professionals, we work so hard to see outcomes that sometimes we miss the progress made along the journey,” Conlu explains. “While the council members’ investment in me will result in a degree, for me it’s about the subtle things. I hope they see a student who at times couldn’t look someone in the eye and complete a sentence, who now speaks with confidence and approaches the world with a sense of dignity, purpose and clarity. I know I deserve to be here.”

Contributing time and treasure

Doug Busch
Doug Busch, chief operating officer (retired), Care Innovations
Supporting the School of Nursing financially and with my time has been very rewarding. I got involved initially because I believe very strongly in the impact that the nursing profession can have on improving the health care system. I’ve stayed enthusiastically involved because I see a unique level of openness and innovation in the faculty and students of the school.
Natalie Bush
Natalie Bush, nurse and philanthropist
As a nurse, I have seen the need for a change in how nurses are educated and how nurses interface in the work force. It has been thrilling to seize the opportunity to invest in the school and its vision to see these concepts manifest in the students at the school. I am encouraged that we will be able to move nursing and health care to new levels for a healthier nation.
Linda Burnes Bolton
Linda Burnes Bolton, system chief nurse executive, vice president, nursing and chief nursing officer, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
One of the essential roles leaders play is making room at the table for others to learn and grow. I am fortunate to be part of the advisory committee and to contribute, so others will develop and eventually pick up the leadership baton. We must keep reaching back to move others forward.
Claire Fagan
Claire Fagan, professor, dean emerita, School of Nursing and interim president emerita, University of Pennsylvania
From the initial gift from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to recruiting Dean Heather M. Young and watching the School of Nursing develop as an innovator for nursing education, this experience has been a professional and personal thrill for me. I choose to invest in the school and its students because I believe in the mission. The foundation took a risk, but it’s one that will pay off in dividends for generations to come.
Russ Bell
Russ Bell, senior vice president and chief scientific officer (retired), Beckman Coulter
Unleashing the power and passion of nursing. Increasing the capacity for human caring. What a privilege to help support these visions that embody the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, knowing that long after I am gone this special place will be producing nursing leaders who will make their communities and the world better.
Joanne Disch
Joanne Disch, professor ad honorem, University of Minnesota School of Nursing
It’s quite an opportunity to be part of this young school’s strategic planning process―and doubly so, when the school is one of the most forward thinking and influential in shaping graduate education for tomorrow’s health professionals. I gladly contribute my ‘time, talent and treasure,’ confident that I get back so much more.