Seton Hall nursing professor Gloria Essoka, PhD, RN, received the New Jersey State Nurses Association Diva and Don Award at a Dec. 3 gala event in Princeton, N.J.
The award recognizes those who have contributed to the advancement of healthcare and the nursing profession in New Jersey, according to a news release.
Essoka, who retired as undergraduate chairwoman at Seton Halls College of Nursing in South Orange, N.J., this past academic year, is an adjunct professor teaching introduction to professional nursing to first-year students. She has had a 55-year nursing career that also includes service as director of undergraduate programs at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing in New York City, as a major in the Army Nurse Reserve Corps and as a visiting professor in Malawi.
I was very surprised, Essoka said in the release. I dont really consider myself in this category of people who become divas and dons.
My proudest achievement has been dedicating myself to being an excellent teacher and a team player wherever I have worked and to see the outcome whenever I have mentored or taught my co-workers.
Seton Hall Associate Professor of Nursing Linda Ulak, EdD, RN, described Essoka as one of the most humble, even-balanced individuals I have ever known and a steady and faithful influence within the College of Nursing.
In her letter of recommendation to the NJSNA, Ulak wrote about Essokas special role as a mentor to new faculty as they transfer from the practice of nursing to nursing education.
Gloria has a knack of meeting people where they are, making them comfortable and helping to bring them along, Ulak wrote. It was so easy working with Gloria because she believed in upholding the standards, not lowering them. It is a cliché to say she leaves behind large shoes to fill, but that is undeniably true.
Saying she felt unfinished after graduating with a nursing diploma from Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia in 1959, where she was the third African-American to be admitted, Essoka sought opportunities to continue her nursing education. She received a scholarship and attended the University of Pennsylvania and earned BSN and MSN degrees within five years. She earned a PhD from New York University in 1981.
Essoka said she looks back on a full life, both professionally and personally, thanks to nursing.
Throughout my life, I went where I was interested in going, Essoka said. Nursing itself led me to engage in a lot of opportunities. I couldnt have asked for more in my life.