Illinois School Nurses Foundation Honors Lewis Students

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Illinois School Nurses Foundation Honors Lewis University Students

Published: October 19, 2020.

The Illinois Association of School Nurses Foundation recognized its 2020 scholarship and award winners October 2-3 during Virtual Illinois Association of School Nurses Annual Convention. The year’s honorees included two Lewis University students and a Lewis University alumna.

Each year, the IASN Foundation offers multiple scholarships and awards to promote the advancement of school nursing practice.   

Chicago resident Alexandra Sontag was awarded a School Nurse Certification Grant, which provides financial assistance to IASN members obtaining their Illinois School Nurse Certification.  Sontag is nurse practitioner for the Chicago Public Schools attending the Lewis University Certification Program.

“I believe that School Nursing serves the unique interaction between school and health. It is an intersection that often gets overlooked,” Sontag commented.

Lombard resident Jessica Zilinsky Conterras ‘20 earned an Achievement Award, which recognizes professional achievements that impact school nursing or the health of children/youth.  The Master of Science in Nursing Alumna did a Quality Improvement project for her district that involved developing “Best Practice Guidelines for Administration of Medical Cannabis in the School Setting.” The professional educator licensed school nurse for the Indian Prairie School District in Aurora surveyed staff nurses about their comfort level with administering cannabis in the schools, and provided related staff education.

Buffalo Grove resident Dena Hinkle earned the Margaret Winters Graduate Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to a professional educator licensed school nurse and IASN member pursuing a school nursing related graduate degree. Hinkle is currently a doctorate in nursing practice student at Lewis University. Her DNP project is a research project that explored “Factors That inhibit or Promote Submission of Data to Inform School Nursing Practice.” Her objective is to encourage nurses to submit data to the National Association of School Nurses Every Student Counts national data set.

The professional educator licensed school nurse for the Aptakisic-Tripp District 102 in Buffalo Grove commented “Several years ago, I chose Lewis University for my Master of Science in Nursing degree to become certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner due to its reputation, flexibility, and proximity. After that experience, it was an easy decision to continue my education there and pursue my Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree. I have been privileged to be taught by some amazing professors at Lewis University and was afforded invaluable opportunities during my MSN practicum and DNP residency hours. Many of my classes have been online, with a few in-person and blended classes. The variety of class options has worked well for me as I have worked full-time and raised five boys throughout this process.”

Lewis University is an innovative and forward-thinking Catholic university offering market-relevant undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,300 students. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is nationally recognized for preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected and socially responsible graduates. Visit for further information.

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