Sherena Edinboro

Community partnership leads to increasing diversity in graduate programs

Graduate school was on registered nurse Sherena Edinboro’s radar for a while. But the decision to apply to the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis became reality after she attended an annual conference made possible by a partnership between the school and a nonprofit community organization.

“I was full of questions and could not believe the assistance that would be provided to me should I take the leap of faith and apply,” Edinboro recalls. “Today, I’m so thankful for the powerful women I met and their words of encouragement.”

Edinboro met the women behind the 2016 Preserve Our Legacy: Advancing African-Americans in Nursing Conference, an annual event co-sponsored by the School of Nursing.

“You don’t know what you don’t know. We want to show people what is possible, so they can then make it happen for themselves,” says Sharon Chandler, the group’s executive director.

The California Healthcare Foundation reports the majority of California’s registered nurses are white or Asian. While six percent of the state’s population is black, only four percent of nurses are black. Collaborating with community groups works to improve those statistics.

“We work to increase the number of clinical nurses, nurse scientists, nurse educators and nurse leaders from the African-American community who can provide culturally respectful and effective health care,” explains Jann Murray-García, an assistant clinical professor.

Edinboro now paves the way for future African-American nurses through the establishment of the first chapter of the National Black Nurses Association in Sacramento. The group recently honored her with a 40 and Under Award.

“We are creating a space for us to have a voice and to help bridge the gap to existing disparities in the black community,” Edinboro says. “Sometimes we must be willing enough to believe in ourselves and take that first step.”