On the Front Lines of the BTC Nursing Program

February 24, 2021

Members of Blackhawk Technical College's Student Nursing Association (SNA) recently attended the Annual Wisconsin Student Nurses Association (WSNA) Conference. This year's conference was held virtually, and nearly 30 current and pre-nursing BTC students participated in the conference. The conference theme was Strength Lies in Differences, not Similarities, and featured a special presentation by Blackhawk Nursing instructor, Marlene Burgos-Stewart, MSN, RN, WCC.

"The turnout for the conference this year was pretty amazing to me. We more than doubled the number of Blackhawk students attending the conference this year," said Student Nursing Association advisor and Nursing Instructor Mary Mather.

BTC pre-nursing student, Stephanie Smith, was elected as the president of WSNA. She will assume this state leadership position later this spring and anticipates starting BTC’s top-ranked nursing program in fall 2021.

Students who attended the conference valued the opportunity to participate in the learning sessions. The conference speakers came from various industries, speaking on relevant issues that occur in nursing practice.

Marlene, with shoulder length brown hair in a floral blouse, is pictured in the nursing lab

Blackhawk's very own were among the presenters. Burgos-Stewart (pictured) delivered a presentation titled, Bias in Health Care and My Experiences where she shared personal information from her vast career in nursing.

Marlene’s call to action for the future nurses was simple: recognize bias, address it, and stop it from happening. She told the students, “In order to recognize bias in a situation or coming from another individual, we must first recognize the bias in ourselves. Being aware of the words that we choose to use and the thoughts that come into our minds when we are working with others is key to positive change.”

In her presentation, she encouraged the students to have uncomfortable conversations and ask uncomfortable questions; through this process comes growth. She continued, “ We must remember that human beings are fallible, and we all have bias of some form or another.”

In addition to the excellent sessions, the students learned study skills to professional skills at the conference and credit SNA for shaping them as students and nurses. Whether you are a student considering nursing as a career or you have been accepted into the nursing program, SNA has a lot to offer its members.

"We offer a number of professional development opportunities for our students to help prepare them for a career in nursing. Our organization recently hosted Tamisha Verner, who presented Racial Disparity in Health Care," explained Mather.

Verner is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Freeport Health System in Illinois. As a graduate of a community college nursing program, she understands firsthand the journey of BTC nursing students. She completed her BSN at Lewis University and received her MSN from Saint Anthony College of Nursing.

The national, state, and local Student Nurses Association mentors future registered nurses' professional development and facilitates their entrance into the profession by providing leadership opportunities, resources, career guidance, and networking with other students and faculty.  The organization is open to any student interested in the nursing profession. If you would like to join, please contact Mary Mather at

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