Inaugural DAISY Awards recognize exceptional School of Nursing student and educator

May 29, 2024

Keira Hines BSN ’25 is awarded a DAISY award from the dean.

For demonstrating exceptional qualities in their roles, Keira Hines ’25, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Erica Rizzo are making history as Quinnipiac’s inaugural recipients of prestigious DAISY Awards presented by the School of Nursing.

The presentations to Hines and Rizzo created an exciting highlight as the School of Nursing celebrated graduates at the School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony on May 10. Hines was awarded the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students. Rizzo was honored with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurse Educators.

School of Nursing Dean Larry Slater said that each DAISY Award reflects many of the important values of the School of Nursing.

"The DAISY Award recognizes not only excellence, but also compassion and kindness. The School of Nursing is excited to launch its DAISY Awards that are a true reflection of our holistic values in nursing education,” Slater said.

Recognized internationally as a hallmark of excellence in nursing, the DAISY Awards are provided by the non-profit DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Foundation. The foundation’s academic recognition awards are distributed in partnership with universities to honor recipients based on nominations from students, alumni, or other colleagues.

The DAISY Nurse Educator Award honors nurse educators for their inspirational influence across the education continuum in academic and practice settings. The DAISY Student Nursing Award recognizes and celebrates nursing students for providing exceptional care and compassion to patients and their families.

The inaugural Student Nursing Award nomination for Hines stood out as she was particularly recognized for her commitment to compassionate care for all her patients during the clinical fall semester of 2023.

Hines said her selection to receive the award was an honor and a surprise.

“I didn’t expect to be recognized with this prestigious award at the senior pinning ceremony. But as I was receiving the award and looking out at the students in the grade above me, it made me realize that the award is not just for me. It’s for the nursing program as a whole, and recognizes all of our dedication towards compassion and patient care in a clinical setting,” said Hines.

Hines said the Daisy Award underscores the type of exceptional educational experience nursing students receive at Quinnipiac.

“The main part of the curriculum that has had an influence on me at Quinnipiac is their emphasis on holistic care. Caring for the patient’s mind, body, and soul is important and emphasized heavily in the clinical setting. The Daisy Award, too, is about applying those concepts into practice and exploring health beyond physical wellness and absence of disease,” Hines said. “I think those aspects of the curriculum have had an influence on the way that I see health and the way I care for my patients, and the way my peers apply compassion into their care.”

She said she hopes future student nurses will be inspired by the opportunity to be recognized with a DAISY Award for embodying the values of the School of Nursing.

“As the inaugural recipient, I’m hoping that it sets a foundation for students to continue pursuing excellence and reminding them of the important impact that their compassion and care can have in the clinical and classroom setting,” Hines said.

As a nurse educator, Slater said Rizzo is a role model for holistic, compassionate teaching.

“Dr. Rizzo is able to help students see their unique talents and strengths and then build on them to ensure their success in the classroom and in their clinical placements. She helps them foster their own holistic, compassionate caring principles that will make them truly exceptional nurses after graduation,” said Slater.

Rizzo said she was humbled and honored to have received the inaugural DAISY Nurse Educator Award at the pinning ceremony.

“It was a huge surprise. They had me in tears. It was just overwhelming; and the fact that they all gave me a standing ovation was really touching. It was a very big highlight of my career,” said Rizzo. “It’s an honor to be selected for this award, especially from this group of students. They were my first traditional BSN class I was with, from the fall of 2022, to really see through to the end. Being able to teach them each semester, and to be there throughout their four semesters, was really nice.”

Rizzo’s passion for education and nursing was underscored in her nomination and comes across in her teaching method.

“I’m very energetic and I use humor -- I try to keep things light; because I feel like students don’t learn well when they’re stressed and when they’re scared. I also pride myself on really staying up on the current literature of best methods in teaching for nursing education,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo also provides a calming presence as she builds trust in her students by letting them know she’s there to support them.

“Usually on the first day I tell them I’m their biggest cheerleader — I’m going to cheerlead you on this journey,” said Rizzo. “It's very rewarding to see them be responsive to the effort I’m putting into their experience. It’s really special.”

Rizzo said introducing the DAISY Award program to Quinnipiac further enhances the School of Nursing’s exceptional experience for faculty and students.

“It gives the students a voice to nominate faculty and their peers, and to really recognize what is meaningful for them; and highlight for other students and other faculty what they’re looking for. I think that’s another way it can grow our perspective, from their eyes,” said Rizzo.

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