Bismarck, ND — The University of Mary’s graduate and undergraduate nursing programs are some of the best in America. Their awards and No. 1 national rankings speak for themselves, and are due, in large part, to its experienced world-class faculty, graduates students who go on to honor the Benedictine values by caring for their patients, and healthcare industry employers and professionals who foster leadership, guidance and mentoring roles to our students.

Each year, the University of Mary Graduate Nursing program, through the help of a selection committee, recognizes an outstanding candidate from those three categories with these awards: The Future of Nursing Award; the Excellence in Instruction: Teaching Faculty Award; and the Healthcare Leader Award.

Dr. Cynthia Cooke received the Excellence in Instruction: Teaching Faculty Award. These awards recognize individuals who elevate graduate nursing students’ educational experiences by inspiring, encouraging, and challenging them to reach their full potentials. Those, who interface with students during academic experiences, share in the professional formation of students and contribute to their attainment of core skills and attributes essential to becoming a competent advanced nursing professional.

“She continues to encourage us to focus on the bigger vision of why we are seeking our DNP, and that is to make a greater impact on the health and wellness of our communities” stated her nominee.

CHI Williston Emergency Room earned the Excellence in Instruction: Healthcare Leader Award as a role model for students in important elements of professionalism and effective teamwork, but also embrace each student who rotates through their department as an important member of their team.

“Students are not only provided many patient care opportunities, but also have been awarded an opportunity with close oversight to fully participate in assisting or performing skills like suturing, splinting, central line placement, consultation, referral, patient transfer, and documentation,” said the nominee. “Particular accolades to the CHI Williston ER Team for demonstrating to our students the recipe for solid teamwork wherein all members share the highest respect with one another, communicate effectively, and support one another in functioning to their highest preparation and licensure.”

Trina Taszarek-Schilling of Wishek, ND, is the recipient of the Future in Nursing Award that recognizes a graduate nursing student who, during the academic program, has demonstrated the growth in professional  aptitudes necessary to lead change and ensure high quality, safe patient care.

“Trina has taken additional precautions to keep the residents at the Napoleon Nursing Home safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet has supported an ongoing connection with family members on the outside through facilitating phone calls or video sharing,” said the nominee. “Trina always demonstrates the heart and desire to learn more and do more to serve others. Trina’s goal is to be able to ‘keep healthcare accessible to our rural communities as the ability to recruit physicians to the rural area anywhere has proven difficult to almost impossible at times.’”

Shannon Heintz, a graduate student from Billings, MT, enrolled in the MSN/MBA in Healthcare Administration Dual Degree program, and Anna Blasey, a graduate from Moorhead, MN, in the Nurse Educator program are the 2020 recipients of the $1,000 each Leo Funk Scholarship. Graduate nursing faculty selected these top two applicants based on qualifications and written essay submissions. To be eligible for this scholarship, students must be enrolled in a graduate nursing program of study; have satisfactorily completed a minimum of 12 graduate credits; have a minimum of one semester of coursework remaining in their program of study; have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater; and submit a brief application essay.

Anyone interested in the graduate nursing program can visit And, /or contact Enrollment Services at (701) 355-8030.