On the unit, in classrooms, government, and in places of worship, UVA-educated nurses invent, influence, inform, and lead in ways both big and small.

Tanya Thomas

Clinical instructor and co-creator of a UVA Health COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies infusion clinic for severely immunocompromised patients

When Tanya Thomas (BSN '05, CNS '19, DNP' 20) was a child, her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died six weeks later. Thomas vividly remembers that he never wanted his children to see him with tubes and drains in his final days, memories that continue to influence her work as a clinical nurse specialist in hematology and oncology.

"We have to treat people holistically," she said. "Without knowing their story, how can we advocate for them?"

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Vickie Southall

Assistant professor and veteran community health and pediatric nurse

Vickie Southall (MSN ’85) may be the longest-serving faculty member at the School, but she constantly finds new ways to teach. Whether it's helping students organize glucose and blood pressure screenings at a Louisa grocery store or food bank, experiencing acupuncture, learning to administer COVID-19 or flu vaccines, or visiting elementary schoolers to talk dog safety, hand hygiene, or the Heimlich maneuver, she quietly builds students' confidence and celebrates their strengths.

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Debra Barksdale

Dean, Professor, Nurse Scientist, University of North Carolina Greensboro School of Nursing

As a youngster, Debra Barksdale (BSN' 83) watched the television sitcom "Julia," starring Diahann Carroll as a young widow working as a nurse. "I was just in awe," recalled Barksdale. "There weren't a whole lot of Black television stars back then . . . Everything I did from then on was to set myself up to be a nurse."

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Ashley Apple

Assistant professor, a family nurse practitioner, and the Virginia Nurses Association's commissioner on government relations

When Ashley Apple (BSN ’18, MSN ’20, DNP ’21) was 16 years old, she chained herself to the front door of a department store to protest the sale of fur coats. “Activism has always been in my bones,” she said. “I’ve marched on Washington more times than I can count.”

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David Simmons

Clinical instructor and senior clinician, UVA Health Department of Nephrology

Inspired by his mother and brother, who were both on dialysis, David Simmons (BSN ’84, MSN ’93) narrowed his focus to patients with kidney disease and today works as a senior clinician in UVA’s Kidney Center Clinic. Along the way, he and his wife Deanna created deep roots in Charlottesville and, during the pandemic, became expert sources of health information in their communities.

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Dawn Adams

Virginia state delegate, District 68, and nurse practitioner

Self-described "policy geek" Dawn Adams (MSN' 89) is a champion for the underserved and marginalized and says nurses are well-positioned translators in whatever environment they enter. And she urges nurses both never to be subservient and to follow healthcare legislation when it comes up because "policy is our life."

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Rebekah Compton

Interim chief clinical officer, University Physicians Group, President, Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners

Becky Compton (MSN ’05, CERTI-FNP ’05) has taken on numerous leadership roles over the past decade—from associate director of UVA’s Family Medicine Clinic to president of the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners to her leadership role at University Physicians Group—but one constant has endured: “I’m committed to remaining, in some capacity, at the bedside with patients,” she said. “The best leaders are the ones who still understand what it means to be clinically active.”

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