School of Nursing students earn honors at Annual Pride Awards 2018

Tara Noorani, left, and Sasha Cohen at the Annual Pride Awards 2018 held at the Miller-Ward Alumni House on Feb. 28.


Two Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing students were recognized Wednesday, February 28, at the Annual Pride Awards 2018 held the Miller-Ward Alumni House. Sasha Cohen was presented the Outstanding Transgender Advocate of the Year Award and Tara Noorani was presented the Fierce Leadership Award. The peer-nominated Pride Awards recognize the great work many people do behind the scenes to advance LGBT equality.

Learn more about our student winners in the following Q and A.

Sasha Cohen: Outstanding Transgender Advocate of the Year Award

Sasha Cohen

Home town: Gloucester, MA
Major: AMSN, FNP
Graduation date: December 2019

How does it feel to have won the Outstanding Transgender Advocate of the Year Award?

It feels amazing to be recognized by Emory for my work with the transgender community but more importantly it is an honor to be able to advocate for my community in spaces where they are underrepresented.

What are some of the specific things you have accomplished at Emory and/or the SON that you feel contributed to you earning this award?

Since the beginning of my AMSN program, I have been fiercely advocating for the inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics to increase understanding of the unique social and health care needs of this population. I have advocated to individual professors as well as SON leadership to increase LGBT content. Through these efforts I have had the opportunity to present lectures on caring for gender expansive youth in both the undergraduate and graduate courses. In addition, I have engaged faculty and students on the subject of transgender rights and created a community space for open dialogue about LGBT health in many classes, where previously there had been none. I have joined the research team, LGBT Gen2, a collaboration between students and faculty, to increase knowledge of the needs of this understudied population. As a member of the Dean’s Executive Student Council I have had the opportunity to work closely with Dean McCauley to strategize about diversity and inclusion and the SON and improve the experience of diverse students in nursing. I also work at the Office of LGBT Life, which has given me the opportunity to interact with gender non-conforming undergraduate students, which has been a wonderful experience.

Choose one or two of these accomplishments and elaborate on what positive outcomes were created.

I have noticed many changes that have come as a result of my advocacy and that of my fellow students. The most wide spread change I have noticed is that people are generally more inclusive of LGBTQ+ populations in our classes and on campus.  The faculty, staff, and leadership at the SON have been very receptive to conversations about equity and inclusion and many classes have begun to discuss caring and reducing health disparities for the LGBTQ+ population.

Why is it important for you to be an Outstanding Transgender Advocate?

As someone who identifies as transgender I often don’t have a choice but to advocate for myself in many areas of life. I am privileged to be able to create space for myself and other transgender people in arenas that we have been historically been shut out of and I do so on behalf of the many members of my community who experience disproportionately high rates of violence, poverty and discrimination. It is my hope that advocating for the transgender community during my time at Emory will help to foster a culture of affirmation among my nursing school colleagues in caring for this population, who desperately need trans-competent healthcare providers.

What are your career aspirations? Do you plan to seek more education or begin working after graduation?

I am passionate about providing my LGBTQ+ community with empathetic and affirming care as a Nurse Practitioner. This career path necessitates the ability to lead with vision and clarity in order to forge new paths in transgender medicine. I am committed to continuing the work I have begun at Emory to advocate for marginalized communities and work towards health equity for all.

What made you choose to pursue nursing?

As a non-binary transgender person, my interest in pursuing a career in advanced practice nursing is both personal and professional. As a medical assistant working at an LGBTQ+ FQHC in Oakland, CA I saw how crucial the NP role is in making sure that patients feel seen, heard and cared for and knew that role would be the best fit for my interests and passions.

Tara Noorani: Fierce Leadership Award

Tara Noorani

Hometown: Moorpark, CA
Major: Family Nurse Practitioner, MSN
Graduation date: December 2018

How does it feel to have won the Fierce Leadership Award?

This award feels like a victory for my community; not only for other LGBTQ+ nursing students, but for patients who embody these identities as well. The driving force behind this work is to enhance the health of sexual and gender minorities and to reduce the disparities endured by their communities. To be a part of making this happen, alongside my nursing colleagues, is a dream come true.

What are some of the specific things you have accomplished at Emory and/or the SON that you feel contributed to you earning this award?

The LGBTQ+ nursing initiatives started with a written proposal in which I requested to partner with Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing NHWSN leadership to make our curriculum content, research concentrations and clinical experiences more inclusive of LGBTQ+ identities. Shortly after, I began working with nursing professors to integrate these topics into their courses; many of whom have allowed me to present in their classrooms. In addition, I’ve worked alongside research professors to create abstract proposals that outline successful models for developing LGBTQ-inclusive education in health professions schools.

Choose one or two of these accomplishments and elaborate on what positive outcomes were created.

The accomplishment I am most proud of is the development of a student group called SpeakOut at NHWSN. It was created to promote evidence-based trainings that support the health and wellbeing of racial, gender and sexual minorities. We have started planning our first transgender healthcare competency training event by partnering with organizations in the greater Atlanta community. We plan to host this event at NHWSN in late spring to foster interdisciplinary teamwork amongst nursing, PA, MD, and public health students with interests in LGBTQ+ health.

Why is it important for you to demonstrate this kind of Fierce Leadership?

Nursing leadership is important to me because we need more nurses in positions of power and influence. The lens through which we see health is comprehensive, multifactorial and intersectional. It’s fitting that the word “fierce” is used here because being a leader isn’t always comfortable or convenient. Leadership can be daunting, but our advocacy as nurses must be relentless and determined if we are to truly amend the systemic structures impacting health.

What are your career aspirations?

I plan to begin working as an FNP where I can integrate trans affirming care into my clinical practice. Too often primary care providers believe this warrants a specialist referral when in reality, this creates more barriers for an already marginalized community. I believe healthcare is a human right and my experiences at Emory have expanded this belief to include the provision of gender affirming care. I also hope to build upon the work I started at NHWSN and continue integrating sexual and gender minority health into health professions education.

What made you want to go into nursing?

I went into nursing to dismantle the barriers that prevent people from living their healthiest lives, both physically and mentally. I believe a nurse’s responsibility extends beyond the clinic doors and into the communities they aim to support. So many of the conditions seen in practice are routed in racial and economic injustice and therefore, I intend to utilize nursing as a means for social change.

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