Nursing studentsJune 22, 2020 — CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) will enter the fall semester with membership in the prestigious Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, which was founded in 1922 at what is now the Indiana University School of Nursing.

Adding CSUCI’s most accomplished nursing students to the 90-country, 135,000-member strong group of professional nurses has been a goal for Professor Emeritus of Nursing Karen Jensen, R.N., Ph.D., ever since the very first students graduated from CSUCI’s Nursing program in 2010.

This April, 16 students who make up the top one-third of the Nursing Class of 2020 became the newest members of Sigma. CSUCI joins the same chapter as CSUN and UCLA, which gives CSUCI’s Nursing students a chance to network and participate in activities at one another’s campuses.

“Many at our institution want to be involved in nursing research and volunteer activities,” Jensen said. “Our students can now go down to UCLA and participate in their research conferences. Sigma Theta Tau’s mission is to celebrate nurses’ scholarship, leadership and service.”

The first members of CSUCI’s brand new Sigma chapter were actually inducted at a Chapter Amendment and Induction Ceremony last October. That’s when the active members of the existing Nursing honor society on campus were invited to become members of Sigma and 24 accepted, joining 10 CSUCI faculty who are also members of this elite society.

Sigma Theta Tau is derived from the Greek words storgé, tharsos, and timé, which mean love, courage and honor. These words have never carried more weight than they do during the COVID-19 pandemic as nurses everywhere devote themselves to victims of the coronavirus, often at great risk to themselves.

Jensen is aware of how daunting it is for Class of 2020 Nursing graduates to step into a health care industry at this particular point in time.

“It’s really scary for new nurses to go into a work environment during a pandemic,” Jensen said. “It’s hard enough for seasoned nurses.”

Membership in Sigma Theta Tau gives the Class of 2020 Nursing graduates extra support in a very difficult job environment, Jensen said.

“This connects them with a group of nurses looking to promote them right from the time of graduation on,” Jensen said.

Class of 2020 Bachelor of Nursing graduate Cassandra Carper, 25, is among the 16 inducted into Sigma Theta Tau. Cassandra’s twin sister, Sabrina, is also in the CSUCI Nursing program and hopes to join her twin in Sigma Theta Tau when she graduates in 2021. The twins live together in Santa Barbara.

Cassandra, who hopes to go into Labor and Delivery nursing, said she has met some wonderful mentors at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, where she and Sabrina are doing their clinical hours, but is also grateful to have an international network of nurses.

“I don’t think I fully realized the value of being inducted into Sigma until I was talking to the charge nurse in Labor and Delivery at Cottage and she said ‘Oh my gosh, you’re in Sigma already?’” Cassandra said.

Their grandmother attended college, but the twins are the first in their generation to attend a university. Sabrina entered CSUCI’s program a year after Cassandra after spending a year at CSU Chico in order to be close to their parents’ home in Chico.

“We grew up in a lower income family in a rural community,” Cassandra said. “It was expected that we wouldn’t get a college degree. Our friends in high school, especially women, got married young and had kids. We knew from a young age we wanted to go further with our education.”

“Looking back at our baby books growing up, every time anybody asked us ‘What do you want to do when you’re older?’ It was always medical-related,” Sabrina said. “I don’t know what sparked our interest so young. I guess we’re both very caring and to be able touch someone at such a vulnerable moment in their lives is an honor, and hopefully we can have an impact.”

For more about induction into Sigma Theta Tau at CSUCI, visit:

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