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Nursing students inspired by President Carter’s Call to Service

For Immediate Release
Date: January 31, 2012
By: Ashley Wiggin, Communications and Marketing Officer, 206-221-2456,

Speaking to a sold out audience at Seattle’s Paramount Theater on January 31, former United States President Jimmy Carter ended his speech with a call to the young people in the audience, encouraging them to find ways to serve their communities right at home. Answering a question from a high school student about how young people can help, Carter said “Let your voice be heard in the most aggressive, combined way possible.”

“I was inspired by his message of encouragement; to find things that open your heart and mind,” said 2nd year Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) DNP student Emily Hilderman, among the attendees at the event.

Among the attendees to the event were School of Nursing Graduate students in Professional Issues for Nurse Practitioners (NUR573) class, taught by School of Nursing faculty member Phyllis Zimmer. While the course content ranges from healthcare policy discussions to “hot topics” in nursing, this assignment was designed to broaden the students’ understanding of the underlying factors, such as social justice and democracy, that influence healthcare systems, and the health status of people around the world. 

“I wanted to give my students the opportunity to gain more of a global perspective to their work and see the large-scale impact of what they are learning,” Zimmer said.  

“As an Ambassador for the Carter Center, I knew that President Carter would present a thoughtful platform of ideas of how global politics and policies influence health.  He is an inspiring leader, and I wanted the students to have an opportunity to hear a world leader of his stature in person, and then use what they heard as a jumping off point for their assignment.”

To those in attendance, President Carter’s speech, “Waging peace, fighting disease, building hope,” was much more than a class assignment. Covering topics ranging from creating peace in the Middle East, to finding solutions for global health problems and improving human rights worldwide, Carter spoke directly to the hearts of the audience. His comments were often followed by roaring applause from the audience, as Carter reinforced the message of worldwide peace and service.  Through his speech, Carter grew on correlations between peace and successful healthcare practice, reminding attendees of the need for strong infrastructure to promote the health needs of people.

“I was especially interested in his approach to the speech,” said FNP student Erin Forsythe. “He was very personable, knowledgeable and not afraid to speak to the connection between human rights and conflict.”

Following Carter’s speech, the students were invited to attend a reception with Carter Center leaders, including Nicole Kruse, who is the Chief Development Officer for Health Programs. Kruse encouraged the nursing students to stay involved in their service, and helped them understand the role that the Carter Center plays in improving health worldwide.

“We are very inspired by what some of the world’s most under-resourced communities have been able to accomplish with limited or no access to essential health tools and information, and are pleased to provide assistance where possible to help these communities fight disease and prevent needless suffering,” said Kruse.  “As nursing students, you will have a chance to make a great impact on health.  We hope the lessons President Carter shared about the necessity to build hope no matter how great the challenges will encourage you to work for positive change.” 

 The students also had the opportunity to meet various supporters of the Carter Center, including UW Alumni and friends. While President Carter wasn’t in attendance at the reception himself , the students were glad to have had the opportunity to hear him speak and engage with Carter Center leaders, who are supporting Carter and his wife’s mission to improve global health overall.

“It was a great experience,” said Kelsey Hupp, FNP-DNP student. “We all left glad to have had the opportunity to attend.”


The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently the nation’s No. 1-ranked nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service.