Aurora University

How AU empowered nursing student to find her leadership skills

By Jeremy Pittenger | February 07, 2020

How AU empowered nursing student to find her leadership skills

Ever since high school, Alexis Hodges has been passionate about becoming a nurse. But the Aurora University senior nursing student never dreamed she would be leading a statewide association of 1,576 student nurses.

That changed last fall when Hodges was named president of the Student Nurses Association of Illinois (SNAI). Her term, which continues through October 2021, marks the fourth consecutive year that AU nursing students have served on the SNAI board of directors.

The SNAI offers students opportunities to gain insight on topics that are important to the nursing profession. The association also helps students develop the skills — such as problem-solving, communication, and teamwork — that will help them provide better care for their patients once they begin working in the field.

Hodges recently reflected on her service on the SNAI board and her experience as an AU nursing student.

What led to your interest in serving on the board of the SNAI?

Growing up shy, I never saw myself being active in such an organization. I didn’t think I could overcome being my quiet self. Yet, it was time for a change. I am finding a new self and breaking out of my shell. I am finally seeing that change I wanted to see. I can talk about what is on my mind and then act.

How has your AU experience prepared you for leadership on the state level?

Being so involved at AU has empowered me to take on new challenges. Not only am I actively involved in nursing, but music has been a huge part of my life. It helps me relieve my stress and be myself. Without the music program at AU, I don’t think I would be able to stay true to the demands of nursing leadership and appreciate all it brings to me. My nursing studies can be overwhelming at times, but participating in music and working with other students at AU have actually improved my time management skills and helped balance my involvement in nursing on campus and at the state level.

Why do you think AU has such a good reputation for its nursing program?

The amount of support students receive from their peers, including older students, and the nursing faculty really makes the program distinctive. At AU, students always have a helping hand to guide them through school. The professors often work one-on-one with their students to help them succeed, to be the best versions of themselves, and to become great nurses.

What are your responsibilities as president of SNAI?

As president, some of my responsibilities include making and following the agenda for our monthly meetings. I also represent SNAI at different events, whether it is something small or attendance at the national Student Nurses Association conventions. Additionally, I provide support to the members and make sure that everyone has opportunities to participate in our activities. I also work to ensure there is a healthy balance between association work and school responsibilities.

What is the biggest issue currently facing student nurses in Illinois?

We are in the process of educating lawmakers about Illinois not being a compact state. That means if nurses earn their license from Illinois and want to work in a different state, they would need to take the NCLEX exam in that respective state. We’d like to change that so that students who live in Illinois — but want to work in states like Wisconsin and Indiana — can do so without hurdles. We hope our efforts during events like Student Political Action Day in Springfield will help current and future generations of nurses.

How do you think your board experience will benefit you in the future?

Being in a leadership position demonstrates to potential employers that I am willing to be more involved within their organization. Doing so not only makes a difference in caring for patients, but it helps improve the working environment for health care providers. Taking an active role as a college student will also prepare me for other leadership positions once I am in the profession, whether that be as a charge nurse or a manager.

What is an accomplishment you’ve had as a board member over the past year?

I have been working with the other board members to increase involvement across the entire state. In recent years, more students in the northern Illinois area have been involved with SNAI. With hosting conventions in the southern part of the state, we are hoping there is better representation of all students across Illinois.

What advice do you have for future and current AU nursing students about getting involved?

Don’t be afraid to go for something you don’t think you are good at. You might underestimate yourself and realize how much of a leader you can be. Being involved can help widen your circle of professional contacts and friends and present new opportunities that you hadn’t been aware of in the past.

Learn more about Aurora University's Nursing program here.