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Our Testimonials...From Past Participants Who Attended Diversity CRNA Information Sessions & Airway Simulation Labs

Wallena Gould, EdD, CRNA, FAAN
Founder & CEO
Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia
Mentorship Program

Hello Everyone,

Typically, on the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program Facebook page, I post pictures from those who recently was accepted into or graduated from a nurse anesthesia program, defended a dissertation defense or doctoral scholarly project, celebrating newly hired positions Chief CRNAs or Clinical Coordinators, honoring those who are in uniform for our country, and so many more successful endeavors.

But, today, I will share with you a story of something that happened with a nurse anesthesia student of color years ago that changed both of us as a result.

In 2008, I received a phone call from a graduating student whom I known from the time he applied to a prestigious nurse anesthesia program. This particular student was the only student of color in his cohort and he revealed to me that he was told he can graduate with his cohort but had to stay in clinical for a little longer afterwards. To make matters worse, his clinical rotation would be extended for three months. This once humbled man in almost tears told me he would first quit than to let that happen while his classmates take boards and able to work as newly credentialed Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. I allowed him to continue to speak with his heart pouring out to me uninterrupted for almost an hour. It was sad as his spirit for continuing graduate nurse anesthesia education was almost shattered to pieces.

There was a long pause on the phone as I was trying to process this life-changing matter. So, I told him this almost verbatim. First, I asked if he invited his mother who had to travel extensively to the graduation? This student on the cusp of quitting the program told me he in fact invited his mother and had reservations to a restaurant afterwards of which he was prepared to cancel because of this devastating news.

Then, I told him, “Well, this graduation is not for you any way. It’s for your momma so she can go back to tell her neighbors and church members how proud she is of her son graduating from a nurse anesthesia program”. And, it included him making sure I sit next to his mother at the graduation ceremony to encourage him quietly and privately. I proceeded to tell him that I rather him continue to do the extended three months of anesthesia at the clinical site than start over in a new program with increased and mounting debt. Trust me, he was fighting back with me on the phone. But I was serious and finally said, I will come after work when he was done with clinical and sit in the library literally across from him so he can continue with studying CRNA boards.

He agreed, finally. Some of these studying days’ lead to the library on beautiful sun-filled Saturdays in the summer. Sitting across from him, I was working on the paperwork for submitting for non-profit status (501 c - 3 ) status for the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program and planning activities for the following year. So, we both had a lot of work ahead of us to do to progress in our future.

This proud Black man finished his obligatory and extended clinical rotation and scheduled his board exam. After passing it on the first attempt he called me first to let me know about the results. A long pause was on the phone. I guess we both knew what that meant, to be honest. So, I want to thank my dear CRNA colleague for making me a better person and to find my true calling. And, exceptionally proud how he managed to get through his darkest moment. Quite often, I share his experience with others as they find their way to the light.

This experience made into a better advocate for nurse anesthesia students who are in some sort of distress. I will never forget how another nurse anesthesia student from the South was not doing well in a pediatric anesthesia rotation. So, I enlisted a CRNA from a Philadelphia Children’s Hospital and another CRNA from California who taught pediatric anesthesia in a program to help this student go from almost failing to passing with no clinical deficiencies and strong academic success.

Thank God …I know what is worth fighting for in my life.


James A. Winters II, SRNA
University of Mississippi NAP

My first exposure to Diversity CRNA was as a nursing student, I attended the 2012 Fall Session hosted by Duke University. This was an impactful experience as it allowed me to interact with a dynamic group of Anesthetists, SRNAs and RNs; all of who looked like me. Everyone at the conference was just as much encouraging as they were informative. I took the information provided and established contacts. One of the contacts, Mr. John Bing, was extremely helpful in constructing a plan of action for admission into Anesthesia School. Mr. Bing made himself readily available, thoroughly answered questions, and offered great advice throughout the entire application process. The plan of action proved to be effective as I was just admitted into the University of Southern Mississippi’s NAP! Thank you Mr. Bing and Diversity CRNA!

Clifford Charles, RN, BSN, CCRN-CMC-CSC (New York)
CMC (AACN Cardiac Medicine Certified)
CSC (AACN Cardiac Surgery Certified)

The weekend of June 13-15, 2014 was life changing and priceless! It was the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program’s June session hosted at the beautiful University of New England campus in Portland, Maine. My short getaway has certainly propelled my confidence and has given me a rich professional impact! In fact, it has been hard to put down my phone since due to all the people I have come to know. As with previous sessions, there was an opportunity to meet CRNAs from around America and pick their brains about the entire selection process, academic rigors, along with personal and professional experiences. Through personal anecdotes, panelists recounted their honest and vivid clinical experiences, the positive, the humorous, and other times that were great learning opportunities. Some shared the bigger meaning within the profession and the global impact of nurse anesthesia, which definitely tapped a nerve for me.

I love the strategy that Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program has used to promote the nursing specialty. In a nutshell, DNAMP is essentially a network of CRNAs with a well-defined vision for the future of nursing. My opinion is that the group challenges qualified minority nurses to reach for their maximal potential professionally. Iwould like to say you couldn’t possibly put a price the hands-on experience. We were introduced to the Narkomed anesthesia machine and had a chance to intubate mannequins. The live simulation portion made for a really fulfilling time as I had a chance to play with the classic anesthesia tools including the Macintosh and Miller laryngoscopes, and visualized anatomical landmarks like the vallecula using glidescopes and fiberoptic laryngoscopes! When I took the plane ride home I had sometime to reflect on the weekend and I could envision my future in nursing anesthesia.

On one hand I could also see how this program can serve as a rescue mission for thosestudents with great potential that for whatever reason felt discouraged about their previous pursuits. Some people touched on the idea that for one reason or another, whether it was lack of support, money, application rejections or other hindrances have held a lot of people back from reapplying. Those individuals found hope and those are the stories that are truly inspiring to me and I feel that if people with much bigger obstacles can succeed than I have no excuses.

There is an implicit promise in this organization and the movement is real. This is an avenue for potential candidates to complete the application process, enter school, graduate, and make a meaningful mark within the profession. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for the pure existence of this program and it has its place right now as the format of nurse anesthesia programs are only getting more competitive.

I have struck oil here and there is some irony to my personal story over the last few weeks besides consuming volumes of knowledge about the profession, ordering a copy of Watchful Care, and meeting tons of CRNAs. Firsthand, I have already experienced how small the community is and in fact I have just shadowed one of the panelists formerinstructors. I applaud Dr. Wallena Gould, her family, and her colleagues for their continued hands-on approach in mentorship. By far I feel blessed to meet the terrific people who have left a mark on me. I can project only great things from here!

Agnes F. Liem, MS, CPNP-PC, RN, AE-C, SRNA
Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care
Certified Asthma Educator

As a pediatric nurse practitioner in the middle of a career changetowards becoming a nurse anesthetist, I was thoroughly impressed atthe professionalism and depth of information presented at theDiversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program (DNAMP), which Iattended at the Samuel Merrit University on March 21-22, 2014. Dr.Lena Gould and Mr. John Bing’s curriculum promotes diversity andunderrepresented minority individuals for successful selection andcompletion of CRNA schools. The guided format allowed for opendiscussion with active and current leaders of the American Associationof Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), various academic program directors,current CRNAs and student ambassadors. Informative sessionsreviewed academic requirements for program admissions, challengesof the interviewing process, and a graduate level anesthesia lecturewas even presented to the attendees as a guide for the academicrigors expected of nurse anesthesia students. The airway simulationlab on the second day allowed direct hands-on experience of theanesthesia machine, medications, basic and advanced airwaymanagement, central line placement, spinal anesthesia, bronchoscopyand placing a central-line utilizing ultrasound sonography. The programinstilled confidence and excitement for like-minded individuals as wetransition from being nurses to the pursuit of entering nurse anesthesiaschool. For me, this well-rounded collaboration and support make theidea of becoming a nurse anesthetist a very strong reality! Thank youto Dr. Lena Gould, Mr. John Bing, academic program directors and theCNRAs and SRNAs who volunteered to make this program an excellentone. I highly recommend this program to any nurse interested inbecoming a CRNA.

Donnell Carter CRNA, MSN
Chief Nurse Anesthetist
Northstar Anesthesia
Metro West Medical Center (MA)
President 2012-2013
Massachusetts Association of Nurse Anesthetists

I have been a part of the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program (DNAMP) as a student nurse anesthetist and a mentor since 2006. I am a witness to a program that started from humble beginnings and watched it grow into a culture that instills personal growth, accountability, determination and a desire to be the best for many nurses of color seeking a career as a nurse anesthetist.

I have met many CRNA colleagues from across the country who were either aspiring applicants seeking to gain entry to a nurse anesthesia program or students in a program by the way of the DNAMP. They have become successful advanced clinical practitioners in nurse anesthesia, faculty, and leaders within our state nurse anesthesia association. There is much to be said about the contribution to the success and the growth of our beloved profession thanks to the mentorship from DNAMP. This is truly a model program.

Eric N. Dinally, SRNA
University of Pennsylvania Nurse Anesthesia Program
Class of 2015

After graduating with my BSN, I began exploring which graduate degree would best suit me. I searched the internet, read books and met with various nurse practitioners and nurse managers to explore my options. While researching I stumbled on the profession of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I had a general understanding of the role of a CRNA, however; I was unaware of the process of becoming one. A friend told me to look into the Diversity CRNA Mentorship Program and luckily for me, I did just that.

I attended the Diversity CRNA Information Session & Airway Simulation Lab at the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. I was able to get hands on experience and practice Adult/Pediatric Mask Ventilation, Adult/Pediatric intubation, spinal placement on a lumbar model, Fiber-optic and glide scope intubations and basic review of an Anesthesia Machine. Though I enjoyed having the hands on experience, it was the warm and friendly environment that Dr. Lena Gould and other Diversity CRNA members created that made the lasting impact for me. It was this setting, which made me feel comfortable speaking to Program Directors of various CRNA programs on a one on one basis. It was at this event I was able the meet Chris Giberson, CRNA, MSN (now the current NJANA president) who invited me to go to their next meeting.

As a Registered Nurse, I attended the NJANA Fall Symposium where Dr. Gould who also attended and introduced me to Dr. Arthur Zwerling Chief CRNA at Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC) who then invited me to shadow him at FCCC and in which I did. Then, I attended the New York Association of Nurse Anesthetist Meeting in the Fall and met Lynne Reede, CRNA, DNP (AANA Region Director) who embraced me as if I was currently enrolled in a program. A few months later, I applied and was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania Nurse Anesthesia Program and in my opinion it was because of Dr. Gould and Diversity CRNA Mentorship Program. Amazing journey so far...

James Lewis, MHS, CRNA (Maryland)
Graduate of Excela Health School of Anesthesia

Thank you is an understatement for how grateful I am to know one CRNA that was so dedicated to my goal of becoming a Nurse Anesthetist. There were times where my confidence fell short, but Lena stood there and reassured me that "the time is now".

I must admit that I had been working in the SICU for 18 months when I met Lena and the entire time was a time of mental growth and preparation. Even with having more than the minimum amount of ICU experience required by the AANA to apply to a NAP, I had no intentions to apply to any Nurse Anesthesia Program until 2011 for 2012 acceptance. While at the AANA National Convention in San Diego, CA in August 2009, as a registered nurse and guest of Dr. Gould, she suggested that I apply for 2010 acceptance based on her review of my application. I did so with the same thought that I have heard many other prospective applicants say, "at least I will get some experience".

Sure enough, on November 13, 2009, I received the GREAT news from Excela Health School of Anesthesia of my acceptance into the August 2010 class.

It was my pleasure to tell Dr. Gould thank you for empowering me to have faith in myself and to go after what I had worked so hard for. I want to take a moment and recognize that I am a more-rounded person today since meeting Dr. Wallena Gould. She is my professional mentor. She is like a mother at times when I have questions on personal matters. I am so grateful for who she was to me in 2009 and for her continued support of my growth personally and professionally to-date.

From my matriculation into Excela Health School of Anesthesia, up to now as a practicing CRNA, there have been countless times where I have phoned or emailed Lena to address a personal or clinical concern. Just the other week, even after graduating, she continues to invest her time and resources in me. Most notably, EVERY time I call, she answers!

Moreover, while in school, I was fortunate to attend the National AANA conference in Boston and San Francisco due to her sponsorship thru the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program. She and her closest CRNA supporters/Board members of the Diversity of Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program, Mr. John Bing and Mr. John Williams, were the primary sponsors for these trips for me. Their time and financial interjection into my life cannot go unrecognized for their impact has been everlasting as well.

I recall a particular moment while in school; I attended school away from my family and friends and I recall specifically in Thanksgiving 2010, I was on-call in Latrobe, PA so Dr. Wallena Gould invited me to her home to avoid being alone over the holiday.

What does all of this mean?

Lena lives with a mission to cultivate the Nurse Anesthesia culture. She leads by example with regard to furthering your education as a nurse beyond a bachelors degree. More specifically, she helped me in school while simultaneously working to complete her Doctorate degree in Education. I’m happy to say that Mrs. Wallena Gould is now Dr. Wallena Gould; She is such an inspiration to all nurse anesthetists, particularly minorities.

What does this mean for those interested in Nurse Anesthesia? Lena is a role model on multiple levels for those interested in Nurse Anesthesia; She is a model to those currently practicing as nurse anesthetists since the profession is moving in the direction of the doctorate degree and she is a role model for nurses interested in advance-practice nursing - nurse anesthesia. In other words, she is a model on ALL levels.

In closing, I am honored to say that I am a CRNA today as evidence that all of her work is not in vain. I look forward to impacting ICU nurses interested in Nurse Anesthesia just as Dr. Gould has elevated and impacted me. She is a special person to me and to so many others. She exudes qualities of compassion, innovation and leadership that all nurses can learn from.

Thank you Lena for all you have sacrificed to grow and improve my life along with the lives of other aspiring nurse anesthetists.

Alison Murray, RN, BSN, CCRN, CSC, SRNA
University of Maryland Nurse Anesthesia Program, Class of 2015

I first met Dr. Lena Gould in 2010 when I attended the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program Workshop at the University of Maryland. In 2012, I attended the Airway Workshop held at Drexel University. I was able to gain so much valuable information and advise from Dr. Lena Gould, Mr. John Bing, and numerous other CRNAs and SRNAs. As a Registered Nurse and before I applied to a nurse anesthesia program, I attended the AANA Mid-Year Assembly Meeting and was engaged in the process of advocacy of nurse anesthetists across the country. It was at this meeting, Dr. Gould and John Bing introduced me to many CRNA colleagues and leaders of the AANA.

DNAMP has given me the support and encouragement I needed to succeed. I have always felt that both Dr. Lena Gould and Mr. John Bing were wholeheartedly dedicated to helping guide me through this challenging process. As an SRNA, I look at my fellow classmates and I am able to see and feel the strong presence of The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program. I am sincerely grateful for all that Dr. Gould and Mr. Bing have done to help prepare all of us to become strong CRNAs.

Jianqiao Chen, SRNA (Drexel University Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program Class of 2014)

The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program has opened a door for me to realize my dream. Thanks to the founder, Dr. Wallena Gould, who would do her best reaching out to me and anyone that need help, whether it is academic, emotional, or financial support. The connection I have built through DNAMP is incredible. DNAMP feels like a big family to me, and what’s more important is that as a SRNA, I am no longer pursuing my dream of becoming a CRNA all alone.

Deji Babalola, BSN, SRNA (Drexel University Nurse Anesthesia Program - Class of 2015)

In 2008, I attended the Diversity CRNA Information Session at the Camden campus of Rutgers University. The guest speaker was Frank Purcell, BS (AANA Senior Director Federal Affairs). At the time, I was just starting an accelerated BSN nursing program. I was excited to become a nurse, as I had a degree in finance that left me somewhat unfulfilled.

This information session was sponsored by the DNAMP, and it opened up my eyes to the world of anesthesia. There were minority nurses, students, SRNAs, and CRNAs from across the country. They were there enthusiastically pursuing a career in nurse anesthesia or mentoring other people in some fashion. They were open to questions, and provided insight on the rigors and pleasures of a career in nurse anesthesia. They exchanged their personal information and were willing to help me and other students in any way possible.

In addition to the information session, I was invited by Dr. Gould and her colleagues to attend an airway workshop. Now as an SRNA, I now have a bigger appreciation of the opportunity. To have well experienced nurse anesthetist walk you through an anesthesia machine check and present the various airway devices used in anesthesia is a valuable experience that cant be overemphasized.

I would not be in a nurse anesthesia program if it was not for the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program. Point Blank. Period.

Alison Murray, RN, BSN, CCRN, CSC, SRNA
University of Maryland Nurse Anesthesia Program, Class of 2015

I first met Dr. Lena Gould in 2010 when I attended the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program Workshop at the University of Maryland. In 2012, I attended the Airway Workshop held at Drexel University. I was able to gain so much valuable information and advise from Dr. Lena Gould, Mr. John Bing, and numerous other CRNAs and SRNAs. As a Registered Nurse and before I applied to a nurse anesthesia program, I attended the AANA Mid-Year Assembly Meeting and was engaged in the process of advocacy of nurse anesthetists across the country. It was at this meeting, Dr. Gould and John Bing introduced me to many CRNA colleagues and leaders of the AANA.

DNAMP has given me the support and encouragement I needed to succeed. I have always felt that both Dr. Lena Gould and Mr. John Bing were wholeheartedly dedicated to helping guide me through this challenging process. As an SRNA, I look at my fellow classmates and I am able to see and feel the strong presence of The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program. I am sincerely grateful for all that Dr. Gould and Mr. Bing have done to help prepare all of us to become strong CRNAs.

Mark Doria, BSN, CCRN-CSC, SRNA (Rutgers University Nurse Anesthesia Program)

The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program has opened so many doors of opportunities for me, including gaining admission into a CRNA program. I attended my first DNAMP session at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA. The information session and airway simulation were so helpful in guiding me through my application process. Getting "my feet wet" in the simulation lab was an exciting experience and strengthened my inner desire to become a CRNA.

Dr. Lena Gould and Mr. John Bing became my mentors and I truly admire them for all the hard work they do in keeping this organization going. They have given me inspiration not only to become a great CRNA, but to guide and mentor future minority SRNAs (like myself). I was honored to have been a part of the SRNA Panel at the University of Pittsburgh (March 2013, to share my experiences with others who will be undergoing the same experiences I did. DNAMP has allowed me to become a part of a melting pot of intelligent individuals, coming together in unity. Thank you Dr. Lena Gould, Dr. John Bing, all the mentors, CRNAs and participating schools for such a fantastic program!

Erica Bryant, SRNA
(Drexel University Nurse Anesthesia Program - Class of 2015)

The love of science has been instilled in me for as long as I can remember. My grandmother and numerous aunts were nurses and my father was biology major in college. This passion for science was reflected in my first career choice as a Cytotechnologist. As a cytotechnologist I studied the vastness of the human body on a cellular level and continued to marvel as I learned to thoroughly understand the human cell and how various disease processes affected it.

While my career allowed me to help patients indirectly, not having direct contact with them left me feeling unchallenged and frustrated. In 2004 I decided to do something about my frustration and began to extensively research the many fields of study that pertained to Health Sciences. As I weighed my options, I found the nursing profession to be a natural fit for my intellectual and nurturing capabilities. As I researched various careers in nursing, it had also become my decision at this time to pursue a degree in advanced practice nursing. I became interested in Anesthesia, a discipline which appealed to my natural affinity for human physiology. Equipped with a new found passion for the Nurse Anesthesia profession, a friend had told me about Dr. Wallena Gould and her mission to mentor minorities interested in pursing a career in nurse anesthesia. I attended my first Diversity Information Session in 2008. It was at this meeting, I met and heard from the AANA Past President of 1973, Goldie Brangman, CRNA, MBA;what an absolute honor.

Through Dr. Gould's encouragement and mentorship I am now enrolled in Drexel University's Nurse Anesthesia Program. I can truly say that I would not have been able to make it as far as I have if it had not been for the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship program. Thanks ever so much Dr. Gould for the tremendous sacrifices you have made to make the dream of becoming a Nurse Anesthetist a reality for me and so many other minorities. GOD Bless you!!!

Tracy Ojeniyi, CRNA, MSN
(Graduate of Thomas Jefferson University NAP 2013)

My story was a little bit different in the sense that I had not heard about the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia program before I started my anesthesia program . Had I known, I am sure that my application process and journey to starting my career as a nurse anesthetist could have been a much smoother transition. Within weeks of starting my nurse anesthesia program, I had met several classmates that raved about the program and its founder Dr. Lena Gould, CRNA. They shared with me their personal unique experiences and dealings with the Diversity CRNA program. This inspired me to become involved and spread awareness about the program that I had not get to experience to the fullest upon starting my personal journey. Since getting involved, I have encouraged many others to also get involved and not miss out on the experience that mentorship program can provide. I have been able to act as a mentor to others much like Lena Gould and John Bing have been to me. Being able to pay it forward is the best way to further the mission of such a wonderful organization. Thank you Lena for allowing me to be a part of your ultimate goal of expanding diversity in the
field of anesthesia.

Irene Tavakoli, BSN, CCRN (Maryland)

I always knew that I wanted to be a CRNA but it seemed impossible to get there. I heard about the Diversity in CRNA Mentorship Program from a coworker and I immediately knew that I had to go. I attended the 2013 Diversity in CRNA Mentorship Program at Pittsburgh University and it is a weekend that I will never forget. Dr. John O’Donnell, the program director of Pittsburgh Nurse Anesthesia Program and Dr. Lena Gould and Mr. John Bing made this experience unforgettable. I got the opportunity to interact with the guest speaker, the AANA President, Dennis Bless CRNA, MS, and practice clinical skills at the Wiser Simulation Lab. I was excited to connect with so many people who all had the same goal and passion as I do- to be a CRNA. I left the first day speechless and excited about what the future holds. I felt like I finally had a chance to make my dreams come true! Thank you Dr. John O’Donnell for hosting the Diversity in CRNA Mentorship Program at your school and thank you Dr. Gould and Mr. Bing for all your help along the way. This journey has been one I will never forget and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you!

Wondenwossen Goshu, CRNA, DNP (Texas)

The Diversity CRNA website is an awesome venue for SRNA and CRNA candidates to seek support, receive encouragement and gain valuable information from insight on productive navigation through their personal program to how to obtain the job of their dreams. The anesthesia and pain management industry is exciting, innovative and ever evolving and Lena's website captures that same essence and transforms it into a tool for every user, novice to expert. I am continually visiting this site as a networking hub and a resource for new projects in the vast and vital world of anesthesiology. Kudos to Lena and thank you for creating such a useful gateway into our field.

Angela Pettis, Capt, USAF, NC

Shannon Segres, CRNA, MSN introduced me to Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia back in 2008 before I entered University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) NAP. Who would have known that this organization would inspire me and so many minorities interested in becoming a CRNA. Not only did I benefit from the advice and encouragement from this organization but more importantly it allowed me to become a role model for others. During my first year of school I received the DCANA scholarship for educating students (mostly minorities) at a local community college about Nurse Anesthesia. I also was the student moderator for the Diversity CRNA program at UMB. Despite being the only African American female in my program, I never felt alone. In fact, it motivated me to excel. Thank you Lena for your unwavering dedication and your courageous spirit!!

Marie Altagrace Medastin
Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist
University of North Florida, Class of 2013

While researching minorities in anesthesia during my first year of anesthesia school, I came across Dr. Lena Gould’s name in various online articles. When I heard her name during a session at my first AANA meeting, I had to introduce myself. During that introduction, Dr. Gould gave me her email address and informed me that I could contact her anytime. Weeks later, I sent her an email. Forty five minutes from the time I sent the initial email, she emailed back with her phone number. Twenty minutes later, I called her, and had one of the best conversations with a CRNA since starting anesthesia school. Dr. Gould and the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program has truly been a blessing to me. Prior to getting involved in DNAMP, my journey through anesthesia school was definitely a struggle. The members of DNAMP are devoted to mentoring not only minorities but also anyone interested in anesthesia. They are always a phone call, text message, or email away. Through the DNAMP, I have had the opportunity to network with people I probably would not have had to opportunity to meet without DNAMP. I have had the chance to complete research that will most likely extend to a doctoral degree. Lastly, I have gained relationships that will last a lifetime. My only regret is not finding out about the DNAMP sooner. Dr. Lena Gould truly is, 'The Bomb Dot Com.'

Thomas J. Giannaccini, III, RN, BSN, CCRN, SRNA
Class of 2013 Co-Class Representative,
Nurse Anesthesia Specialty, School of Nursing,
University of Maryland, Baltimore
2012-2013 Student Representative,
Maryland Association of Nurse Anesthetists

The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program has had an enormous impact on my life. My life has changed drastically for the better since I met Dr. Lena Gould, CRNA, EdD and John Bing, CRNA. Not only did I get accepted to the Nurse Anesthesia program at University of Maryland, Baltimore; I have also made high quality lifelong friends.

From the very first Diversity Information Session I went to at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, I knew that I had met a group of friendly, high caliber people from interesting and diverse backgrounds. Next, I went to an Airway workshop at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I learned a great deal about airway anatomy, techniques for intubation, and how to use a fiber-optic bronchoscope. I also had the opportunity to view and manipulate an anesthesia machine.

Although I knew the experience was special, I didn’t realize how special it was until I started my first day of nurse anesthesia training. I soon realized that the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program is one-of-a-kind, and there are extremely limited opportunities to be able to view an anesthesia machine or learn hands-on airway skills prior to anesthesia school. Later, when I revisited these topics in class, I was able to grasp the concepts much more easily than if I had not gone to the Airway Workshop. Not only did this help me, it helped my classmates as well because I was able to share the experiences I gained at the workshop.

Another positive outcome of the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program is that I have become more sensitive to the needs of cultures which are different than mine. In making friends from various cultural backgrounds, sharing life experiences with them, and listening to their life experiences, I have been able to gain some insight into cultures which are different than what I grew up around. I have come to value variety of culture tremendously through the friends I have made in Diversity.

As a result of the friends I made through Diversity, I was offered an opportunity to help the people of Nicaragua on a medical mission. It was an amazing experience which really tested my anesthesia skills. John Bing, CRNA served as my mentor for the trip; I was humbled by the amount of experience and knowledge he was willing to share with me. I feel as though I have become a much stronger clinician as a result.

Through Diversity I was able to gain an insight as to what the field of Nurse Anesthesia is like before entering Nurse Anesthesia training. Being able to get my questions answered before entering the program was invaluable; I knew I needed to prepare myself for a very difficult 28 months. Subsequently, I was able to get my affairs in order before entering training. Considering how difficult the training is, I would not have wanted to enter graduate school without that insight.

To any prospective students who are on the fence about applying to Nurse Anesthesia school, I offer the following words of advice. 1) Get your questions answered. 2) Prepare your life so that you can focus without distraction for the next 3-4 years. 3) The work is hard but advice is available. This is what really makes it possible. Seek a good mentor, then do as they suggest, no matter how difficult. Best of Luck.

T’Anya Carter, MS, CRNA (Texas)

The Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program, in my opinion, signifies progress and much needed change. I met Dr. Wallena Gould, CRNA at the Annual Meeting in Minneapolis in 2008 as a trainee. And at the time, the statistics regarding the numbers of nurse anesthetists of color were abysmal. Through this program, minority trainees are being exposed to a career in nurse anesthesia in record numbers. Although the numbers are not yet where they should be, they are improving. As Gandhi so eloquently stated, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Wallena is a living testament to this statement. Through her vision and leadership, she has instilled in many of us along the way to continue to inspire others the way she inspired us. I subscribe to this school of thought and have made myself visible and available to a number of nurses and nursing students on their own quest to achieve the previously perceived unachievable career of nurse anesthesia. This is progress.

Amlakie Digafie, BSN, CCRN (Maryland) Sept. 2013

A wise man ( my father ) to be specific, once told me that a good leader is the one who leads by example. I have had a distinct privilege of meeting the president of AANA Mr.Dennis Bless, CRNA, MS. at the Diversity CRNA Information Session at the University of Pittsburgh and solidify my understanding of nurse anesthesia as a profession. Mr. Bless presented nurse anesthesia from several angles and illustrated current issues with a special emphasis on the need to add diversity and making the profession represent the true makeup of the our society. Mr. Bless was very involved during the two day nurse anesthesia mentorship program and airway workshop organized by Dr. Lena Gould, Mr. John David Bing Jr, and Dr. John O'Donnell of the University of Pittsburgh. Similar to many other fellow future CRNAs I enjoyed being mentored by Mr. Bless on proper establishment and maintenance of airways at the WISER institute. THANK YOU is all I can say.

Elsa Rodriguez-Roth, SRNA (University of New England)

Had an awesome time this past weekend at Samuel Merritt University for the Diversity CRNA Info Session Event - Oakland California. So glad I was able to be part of the high Fidelity, manikin based simulation lab. Kudos to the entire staff and students of Samuel Merritt University for a great hospitality. As always they did an upstanding job. Thank you so much to our guest speaker Lynn Vitartas Reede, CRNA, DNP, MBA – AANA Senior Director Professional Practice, your message was very inspiring and encouraging. Thanks a million to Dr. Lena Gould, CRNA, EdD and John David Bing Jr, CRNA for all you
do for us!!!

Anoop Banathia, BSN, CCRN (NJ)

Dr. Lena Gould, thank you for all that you do. Your selfless attitude and demeanor is forever inspiring. This weekend was simply invaluable and unforgettable. After this weekend, I find myself fully encouraged and motivated to realize my dream and my potential.

Erica Jordan, SRNA (Florida)

You inspire me so much. Your vision to create diversity in nurse anesthesia has helped so many people including me. Your mentorship has helped me get to this point and now the craziness will begin in a few months. Because of DNAMP, I know more SRNAs & CRNAs then I would imagine I would before beginning school. When discouragement tried to creep in , you pumped me right back up. Continue to do what you do. It's changing lives. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.#inmyfeelings#mymentor #blessed##happy#rn

Elizabeth Abraham, BSN, CCRN (Maryland)

I'm so glad to have been a part of this weekend's conference at the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program geared to help minorities excel in such a highly coveted profession!! It is such a blessing that people like Dr Lena Gould and Mr John Bing and their team of mentors are helping so many students achieve their dreams!! Thank you all, I can't wait to get involved
and give back!

Byron Anderson, SRNA (Arkansas State University)

On 08/11/2013 I was invited by my mentors Dr. Lena Gould, CRNA, EdD & John David Bing Jr, CRNA to speak at the American Association of Nurse Anesthetist (AANA) annual meeting (Las Vegas, NV) for the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program (DNAMP) black & white event. I am blessed to be given a platform to tell my testimony & to inspire other minority
nurses of color.

Francis Bicol, SRNA (Union University NAP)

I was in this March info session, grasping every bit of information. Blessed to have been interviewed by Union Univ NAP April 5th and got my acceptance call 5 days later. I wouldn't have made it through one school application without my mentors and this program.

Diane Dy, SRNA Villanova University:
Diversity Nurse Anesthesia Prepared Speech during AANA Diversity CRNA Black & White Affair 2013

Hi Good Evening! My name is Diane Dy. I am a junior SRNA from Villanova University’s program. First off, I want to thank Lena for this opportunity to speak tonight. Dr Gould & all my mentors from the Diversity organization is the reason why I stand before you today as a SRNA. Three years ago, my friend and former co-worker James Lewis invited me to a Diversity luncheon in Maryland & little did I know it would change my life. I never really thought I would be where I am today. I moved to Baltimore, MD from the Philippines in 2006. I knew then I wanted to be a CRNA, but the task in front of me—the whole application process, going to school full time…just seems so enormous especially when you are at a place where you do not have a lot of support. But since I attended the Diversity luncheon, to this day, that is exactly what the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program gave me—a strong support system. It is full of people passionate about anesthesia, empowering others to be excited, & to do great things. Words cannot express the amount of inspiration Dr. Gould has given me. Through her words, her very own struggles, her life story. This past year, a lot has happened for me—I started Anesthesia school, I moved to a new state knowing nobody (as I am sure a lot of you can relate), & I learned how to intubate! Reflecting back, not only have I gained a lot of knowledge about giving anesthesia, but I have also grown as a person. So, I would like to express my greatest gratitude to Dr Gould, John Bing, Chris Scott, Dr. Lukeythia Bastardi, Chris Scott, James Lewis, Israel Akpadiaha, Anthony Chikendu and the rest of the team whom I may have failed to mention, for those inspiring words which gave me great strength to pursue this wonderful profession. In two weeks, I will officially be a senior SRNA!!! Cheers everybody!!!

(Graduate of Wayne State University NAP)

I was not raised in a nuclear family, I came from a broken home in inner city Detroit. As a child, I experienced hardships and poverty early, as my parents were plagued by consuming drug and alcohol addictions. I was shuffled around foster homes, and it may have seemed that I’d become another statistic, but the good Lord had a different plan for me. Key influential people were placed in my life's path that taught me the importance of hard work, dedication, and faith. This truly changed the trajectory of my life journey. Dr. Wallena Gould was one of those individuals. While I was still in nursing school in 2008, our paths crossed and she invited me, a perfect stranger, into her home as if I were family. It was there that I was introduced to this thing called the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program. Now, 5 years later, I'm finally a CRNA. It's a dream come true! The entire program, and so many of the people involved in it have been instrumental in my success. Thank God for Dr. Gould, and thank God for the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Program.

Joseph Ortega, SRNA
(Graduating SRNA from the University of Miami NAP)

Diversity Nurse Anesthesia has gotten so big! The AANA president-elect, Dennis Bless, CRNA, MS heard your voice and felt your presence and is now making it a priority of his and AANA to reach out to people of color and make anesthesia more diverse. You are doing great work and you are an inspiration to all of us! I can't tell you how grateful I am that you suggested the University of Miami. They truly do value students of color and Miami itself has many Anesthetists (MD&CRNA) from very diverse backgrounds.

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