“I had the pleasure of working with Nikki Akparewa during my public health rotation at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. All nursing school curriculum’s share similarities to teach students key components of nursing including fundamental core skills, proper communication, ethics, compassion, among others. We also learn about social determinants of health and health disparities and are challenged to be leaders to push for change and advocate for our patients.

Although we learn communication skills, it is not at the depth of having crucial conversations. During our rotation, Nikki challenged the cohort to push our boundaries and discuss controversial topics such as race, abortion and mental illness. Admittedly, I was skeptical in the beginning, concerned I would offend or cross a line. My fear dissipated once Nikki created the proper environment. Nikki created a safe space and coached the cohort by setting the tone that should we find ourselves becoming offended, we take it as a learning opportunity. She taught us how to properly manage emotion and use our voice as a platform to interject differing opinion. While there was a lot of passion in our group, we were able to have these discussions because Nikki created an environment in which we could learn and speak freely.

Graduation looms on the horizon and I have reviewed my experiences at JHSON and realize the conversations Nikki facilitated were one of the most valuable experiences, not only for my professional career, but my personal life too.  This epiphany rests with the knowledge that change cannot happen without difficult conversations or resisting the status quo. In order to make changes, discussions on barriers and recommendations for improvement need to occur, which takes courage. My experience with Nikki has given me that confidence.

I’ve been in school many years and have learned under a variety of teaching methods. Few teachers possess the unique combination of skills to truly stand-out, Nikki is one of these exceptions. Her ability to actively engage the group while displaying admirable patience and people skills is to be commended.  She is an inspiration and has lit a fire in me that cannot be undone. I know with absolute certainty If you have the opportunity to work with Nikki you will not be disappointed. Her genuine kindness and drive to make changes is contagious and I’m sure she will light a fire in you as well!”

Brenna Romano
MSN Candidate | August 2017

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