Nursing Student Looks to "Make a Difference" in the Community

Nursing Student Looks to "Make a Difference" in the Community

By Stephanie Wise
Outreach and Engagement Communications Intern

When talking to Morgan Ciehanski, a third-year honors nursing student, it is easy to pick up on the zeal she has for her area of study. She is involved both in and out of the classroom, making sure to keep her plate full with admirable activities and events.

What drew Ciehanski to nursing was the impact that she could have on people in everyday life. She spoke about how she is indecisive, and the decision to pursue nursing was something she had to battle with.

"When I was trying to decide between a major, I couldn't decide between nursing and business. I felt like when I truly sat down and went through what I want out of life, I thought I could touch more people or influence more people through nursing then I could through business and that's what I want out of life - to make an impact. Nursing to me was more important in that aspect," Ciehanski said.

Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing Elizabeth Fitzgerald was pleased to have Ciehanski become one of her honors students. Fitzgerald, along with Professor of Clinical Nursing Barbara Warren and Clinical Instructor of Practice Deborah Dawson, helps run the Making a Difference program, a community-university partnership that seeks to address health issues in the Near East Side of Columbus.

"When the program first started, (the program founders) wanted to make a difference on the Near East Side of Columbus, in the Mount Vernon area, and they identified that in the African-American community a good place to do that was barber shops. That is a good place to be to kind of get the pulse on the community and a wonderful place to be able to screen for high-blood sugar and high-blood pressure," said Fitzgerald. "Stress is also something that is really important in the community so we started giving out pamphlets and taking blood pressure and sugar levels."

The College of Nursing found a committed partner in Al Edmondson, owner of A Cut Above the Rest barbershop. The program has been stationed there for several years and has continued to grow.

Ciehanski soon learned about the program through Fitzgerald, and has been actively involved in many of the initiatives the program participates in. She cites the program as being important in her development of becoming a nurse.

"I have experienced so many different people and so many different things I never would have realized or known especially being kind of isolated on campus, being where we are, we are closed-off from the community around Columbus," Ciehanski said.

Ciehanski also spoke about how the program has allowed her to become more prepared for the diverse array of patients she will experience in the field. It has allowed her to relate to patients and bridge the gaps that can exist between patient and caregiver.

When asked about Ciehanski, Fitzgerald had numerous praises for her.

"What I love about her is how eager she is to dive in. She was assigned to me to do research, but I wanted her to get a feel for the neighborhood, a feel for the people, the history, and the culture to see what we actually do out there rather than just hearing through a focus group...She has also recruited other students to help me that are interested in this kind of work," Fitzgerald said.

While still undecided about where she would like nursing to take her after college, Ciehanski talked about the pride she has in the efforts Ohio State makes to engage with the community and better it in a reciprocal relationship.

"Ohio State has such a voice, and is such a prominent university not only in our state, but across the country and across the world," said Ciehanski. "People can see that Ohio State is not just Columbus based, but that it is community based and it goes beyond the campus. I think it is so important for us to use our voice and reach out to our community."

College of Nursing faculty members Dr. Jennifer Kue and Dr. Usha Menon founded the Making A Difference program after receiving an Engagement Impact Grant from the Office of Outreach and Engagement.

Contact: Lizzie Fitzgerald,

Program website: