“You will graduate with Honors Research Distinction”

After being admitted to the BSN program I was invited to apply for the College of Nursing’s Honors Program which beyond the title consists of a role in undergraduate research under a professional within the college. I was hesitant initially to apply because only the top 10% of each incoming nursing class are eligible and I did not know where I fell relative to everyone else admitted to the major. I was convinced to apply to the Honors Program when I read that “upon completion of the Honors curriculum you will graduate with Honors Research Distinction.” Reading that statement lit a fire inside of me because I had found my next goal. For such a long time my goal was gaining admittance to the nursing program and with that accomplished I had found my next challenge. Below I have included two of my essay responses part of my application that fortunately allowed me to earn a spot in the College of Nursing Honors Program and a role as an undergraduate researcher.

What are your reasons for wanting to participate in the Honors Program at the College of Nursing?

“Ever since I can remember I have refused to be ordinary. The times in my life during which I have felt most personally fulfilled were those when I proved to myself that I am capable of being extraordinary. Most recently, earning admission to Ohio State’s Nursing Program gave me the sense of accomplishment that I have grown to crave in everything I do. While I am incredibly proud of this achievement, it is with humility and gratitude that I look forward to beginning my journey towards acquiring a BSN degree; because I am aware that there are many individuals who do not have the same opportunity due to the program’s capacity. It is my hope to further distinguish myself as a capable and purposeful member of Ohio State’s nursing community through involvement in the Honors Program participating in undergraduate research.

Additionally, my interest in participating in the Honors Program at the College of Nursing is largely the product of my experiences in the University’s Honors Program during my freshman year. This past year I had the pleasure of taking honors second year english, mythology, and theatre, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed because of the degree of genuine engagement between students and faculty. I found the dialogue that took place in those classes to be distinctly satisfying because it was the result of a dynamic interplay of opinions and interpretations from people authentically interested in the material. Also, these classes challenged me to learn how to balance the pace and demand of honors coursework, which I now regard as invaluable because it taught me how to produce quality work while managing my time well. This opportunity to challenge myself and engage in an involved partnership with an honors program faculty advisor through research excites me because of the potential for discovering something extraordinary.”

How will being an investigator in a research study benefit you and your future career in Nursing?

“Another pillar of my personality, in addition to my refusal to be ordinary, is my commitment to progress. That means I believe it is of pinnacle importance that my actions and behaviors are conducive towards positive change. The change I intend to cause does not necessarily have to be profound or significant; however I do aim for it to be productive in whatever regard it is most purposeful. Currently, I am most capable of accomplishing this mission on a personal level with some collateral effects in those immediately around me. Participation as an investigator in a research study will allow me to disseminate positive change to a much larger audience through my efforts. This research opportunity will benefit me because it will provide me with a broader knowledge of my scope of practice and an understanding of how nursing and patient care is advanced by research, beyond my curriculum for the remainder of my undergraduate years. I know there are endless concepts and lessons to be learned from conducting research that will allow me to develop a unique appreciation for practicing medicine as I embark on the beginning of my career in nursing. In the future, I have aspirations of attending graduate school to earn a Master’s degree in nursing and potentially a Ph.D. degree with the goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner, therefore undergraduate research experience will add dimension to my application and prime me to be a purposeful individual in the field of nursing. Being an investigator in a research study for the next three years will fuel my commitment to progress through an active role in my learning, with unlimited capacity to excite positive change in my own life, and the lives of others through my actions.”

Beginning of My Journey in Undergraduate Research

Today marked the official beginning of my journey in undergraduate research. Earlier today I finally had the chance to sit down with Dr. Cindy Anderson PhD, CRNP, ANEF, FNAP, FAHA, FAAN, who will serve as my mentor in my research endeavors for the next three years. When applying for research I was immediately enchanted by Dr. Anderson’s previous research studies regarding epigenetic factors leading to preeclampsia during pregnancy. The content of her previous work and her expertise in the area of my interest made me confident she was the professor I wanted as my mentor because I knew our passions would compliment each other. Today, during our meeting that was confirmed and I am not only excited for what the future holds in terms of my research, but I am also overcome with a sense of gratitude that will have Dr. Anderson by my side for the remainder of my undergraduate years and beyond. Below I have included one of the essays I wrote as a part of my application to do research under Dr. Anderson.


In essay form please explain why your top choice would be ideal for your research interests and professional goals, and how you would use their expertise to facilitate and improve your research.

“The past twelve months have surprised me in ways I could have never anticipated. Last June I received news from my best friend of fifteen years that permanently changed my life. She confided in me that hours prior to our meeting she had attempted suicide; and that was not the first time she had tried to take her own life. When she told me about this I recall feeling an overwhelming sense of helplessness. I questioned how someone who I grew up alongside could be experiencing a biological reality in which she did not feel worthy of living anymore. That day I walked away from our conversation feeling compelled to do something. I felt an obligation to help my friend in any capacity I could, and also to seek out answers to why and how she arrived at this mentality. Since then she has been professionally diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and most recently, bipolar II disorder. While her suffering now has a title, we still are not able to decipher where in her biology her illness comes from. What began as a genuine curiosity with the origins of my best friend’s condition has developed into an infatuation with why and how the biological intricacies of the body and mind translate to the human experience. In autumn 2016 I came across the field of epigenetics and it ignited a spark inside me. More than anything the vast potential of information to be discovered about the time spent in utero fascinates me.

While epigenetics may not have the answer as to why my best friend is facing these unforeseen biological problems, the endless potential of answers to be found regarding different conditions for generations to come inspires me to get involved. I am confident Dr. Anderson’s work with gene environment interactions during pregnancy will additionally inspire me and her expertise with maternal/offspring dynamics will guide my investigations because of her comprehensive understanding of the material. My organized style of work will allow me to conduct research efficiently and thoroughly, complementing Dr. Anderson’s multitude of important research endeavors. By the end of my career in nursing it is my wish to prevent the feeling of helplessness that I once felt, for the patients and their loved ones who I serve. Therefore, a partnership with Dr. Anderson investigating various aspects of fetal origins will be a fantastic start to my journey towards making a difference in the lives of current and future generations.”

OSU Star House

In the spring of 2017 I had the pleasure of volunteering at the OSU Star House, which is a resource center and place of comfort for the homeless youth in Columbus, as a part of my participation in the University Honor’s program called ‘Semester of Service’. The Star House services youth ages 14-24 and provides a safe place to cook a meal, wash clothes, participate in recreational activities like sports and crafts, and access helpful resources. The time I spent at the Star House had a large impact on me and caused me to feel a great deal of gratitude because I often interacted with youth who were my same age, but in a drastically different point in their life. After a few weeks of volunteering, it became apparent to me that the youth were not taking full advantage of the available resources that the Star House had to offer simply because they were not aware of when they were being offered or that they were available at all. Along with another volunteer, we worked to create a monthly brochure for the youth outlining the resources and activities the youth could choose to take part in if they so chose. I have attached below the brochure for July 2017 as an example of what we would hand out to the youth. They were extremely grateful for this resource and the staff at the Star House were delighted that the youth finally had a practical way of being aware of all the awesome resources they worked hard to arrange for them.

Star House July 2017 Brochure-2k7sgve

About Madison Gardner

Madison Gardner is a junior almost half way through her second year in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing undergraduate program at The Ohio State University. She conducts research regarding how to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease following a preeclamptic pregnancy, which compliments her interest in women’s health. Madison will graduate with Honors Research Distinction from the College of Nursing in the spring of 2020. Until then, she looks forward to accumulating as much clinical experience as possible in different settings. She is seeking a student nurse externship position for the summer of 2019.

350 Words Away From the Rest of My Life

Almost one year ago the application for admission to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing undergraduate program, and almost one year ago I was extraordinarily close to losing my mind when I realized that a mere three hundred and fifty words stood between me and my future in nursing. For years I had been dreaming of earning admission to an undergraduate nursing program and for the first time I had doubts that I would be able to produce a composition that would convince a committee of my worthiness to be in the program. Below I have included the essay prompt and response that I slaved over for months, which thankfully was persuasive enough for the BSN admission committee to grant me a place in the 2020 nursing class. So here they are, the 350 words that I chose to dictate my chances of getting into Ohio State’s Nursing Program:


The College of Nursing is committed to ensuring a positive, nurturing, and safe environment by respecting and affirming the diversity of individual’s identities, backgrounds and points of view. How do you see yourself contributing to and supporting this commitment in the nursing profession? 

Being of mixed ethnic origins myself, I can empathize with individuals who experience conflicting and troubling feelings about their identity and their role in their communities. Beginning in elementary school, classmates would singularly attribute my academic success to the fact that I was half Asian. This ongoing experience was particularly upsetting to me because I never associated my rigorous study habits and passion for learning with my heritage. It is from these challenging moments that I have arrived at the belief that people are not defined by what they look like, and that the potential to succeed in any discipline of life comes from within. Additionally, I have learned that every experience, every interaction, is a platform for personal growth and progress. My commitment to fostering my own self-worth enables me to continuously expand my understanding of not only myself, but my community and the world around me.

Within more recent years, I have become more comfortable with my heritage and even accepted a leadership role in a retreat for my peers my senior year of high school. One of my responsibilities was to prepare a speech in which I discussed my ideals and values. In the opening lines of my speech I shared, “Our values are fundamental to our existence, without them, we would be missing a part of ourselves. If I were a house, my values would be the framework: the support system hidden underneath my exterior layers of decorative paint and embellishments.” Today I am not bothered when people judge my decorative paint and embellishments, because I honestly think my squinty eyes and dark brown hair are awesome and I would not change them for the world. It is a brave decision to be true to yourself, however it is not a task anyone is meant to accomplish alone. My values regarding diversity have been fortified from my experiences and align with the College of Nursing’s commitment to respecting and affirming diversity. My passion for this subject allows me be an example of tolerance and an advocate for those struggling with or oppressed because of their identity.

Eighteen Years

Eighteen years may seem like a long time, but it was not enough time for my friend Ryan. Almost a year ago I found out Ryan was in a serious accident resulting in severe and irreversible brain damage. The following days were hosts to some of the most frustrating and conflicting emotions I have ever felt. Day after day I received updates from his older brother across the country showing no progress, leaving me feeling helpless, alone, and devastated because this time, medicine was not the answer. Never before in my own experiences had medical practices let me down. Amongst this sadness however, I witnessed an incredible thing: a community of people who knew Ryan, unifying in an effort to supply hope and celebrate the incredible life he had lived. People who knew him for a variety of reasons shared stories and memories, all with a common recognition of the undeniable joy and consideration he demonstrated with everyone he encountered. 

After two weeks of surgeries and treatments with no improvement, Ryan’s family decided to donate his organs. I vividly recall the day he was taken off of life support; I began to feel a sense of comfort and peace, realizing that Ryan continues to live on in the lives of the recipients of his organs and in the hearts of everyone blessed to have known him. This experience inspired me to consider what sort of impact I can make on the lives of others through a career in nursing. I aspire one day for patients and coworkers to remember me as being considerate, caring, and purposeful, because I realize the significance of exemplifying these traits, like Ryan did. It is with gratitude that I miss my friend Ryan, because he taught me that trust is earned not given, encouraged me to always be a part of the solution, and reminded me that we have so much to be grateful for. 

Here is a Facebook post I made in October 2016 after having some time to reflect on Ryan’s life and death:

In loving tribute to the life and memory of Ryan Abele.

Ryan Abele, or Rabele as I liked to call him, has been an immeasurable blessing in the lives of so many, including my own. It is challenging to imagine a world without the light, love, and laughs that Ryan brought to every situation. Rabele was truly one of a kind and will never be forgotten.

Rather than the conventional “hey!” or “what’s up?” Rabele and I would often greet each other in the hallways by saying, “what goes on?” While I’m not entirely sure of this origin of this phrase we would use, I am certain that ‘what goes on’ is the immense love and passion that Ryan willingly shared with everyone he met. ‘What goes on’ is the example he set for how to be a true friend and an honorable man. ‘What goes on’ are his undeniably funny sayings that everyone loved and continue to use. ‘What goes on’ is the tremendous gratitude in the hearts of those blessed to have known him.

You stay cute up there Rabele, love you always, Mads

Ryan’s accident happened four days after my nineteenth birthday and he passed away being only eighteen years old. Within those eighteen years Ryan was able to touch the hearts of so many people and truly make an impact on every person he met because of his honest disposition, gentle confidence, and genuine kindness. Not a day has gone by since during which I have not considered the significance of this difference in time. I feel incredibly blessed to have gotten as much time in this life as I have so far, and I intend to make the absolute most of it while I can. This intense, insatiable desire to be purposeful now–not after I graduate, not once I have a job, but right now–drives me to be my self best everyday. Most recently, I attribute my lengthy efforts to obtain an undergraduate research position to this determination of mine to make a difference as soon and as often as I can. Without Ryan’s passing I honestly do not think I would be as motivated to make a positive impact on the world through a future in nursing as I do today. I carry this excitement and sincere appreciation for life with me everyday and I look forward to seeing where it takes me next.