At the Faculty Luncheon on July 13, Daria Byrne of the School of Nursing was recognized as a recipient of a Distinguished Faculty Award. On her nomination form, one student commented, “She cheerleads her students…when life gets in the way, she makes us as students want to keep fighting because she demonstrates such confidence in our ability to overcome and finish the journey.”
Byrne says the comment “makes me a little teary-eyed,” because the student’s acknowledging that she has made a small impact in their education. Byrne started with Excelsior in 2012 and currently teaches the following courses: Data, Information, and Knowledge; Research and Evidence-Based Practice; Informatics and Healthcare Delivery Systems; Policy, Ethics, and Population Health; Management Information for Decision Support; and the Nursing Informatics Capstone.
Byrne’s interest in nursing stems back to her father. He was a paraplegic and seeing him interact with nurses and physicians, as well as helping to care for him, led her to pursue nursing. Both her parents were computer programmers and so after graduating with a nursing education degree in 2000, she decided to go into health care informatics. While pursuing her degrees, Byrne became interested in teaching, noting she had good and bad professors and wanted to “teach students differently.” Her philosophy is “if you have a question, please ask and I will help you find the answer.”
She believes that not one person is immune to life happening, and being able to understand that as a faculty member is important. She also believes that “you can have compassion for students and still uphold the rigor and still expect quality, and I think sometimes if they…know that you care for them, then sometimes that quality is that much greater.”
Byrne emphasizes participation on the discussion boards in her classes. She tells students that “You’re going to learn more from your peers than you will from me or perhaps even the readings because there’s so much vast experience in the students at Excelsior that contributes to learning in the classroom.” If students are hesitant to open up, Byrne messages them privately and encourages them to share their knowledge. She says students have so much knowledge; they just need to tap into it.
Byrne has kept in touch with many of her students after they’ve graduated and has even written several recommendation letters for doctoral programs. She says her favorite part of teaching is “serving as the cheerleader.” She claims a lot of that comes down to having done much of it before and knowing what she needed and perhaps never or only sometimes getting that support from her professors. Byrne also likes being there when Excelsior graduate students come to the realization that even though it might be harder, grad school is a new way of thinking and learning.
Her favorite part about nursing is “truly making a difference in the life of a patient and subsequently their family members.” Her oldest son, Cole, might be following in her footsteps. He is lead robotics engineer for his school robotics team and they often talk about the impact he can have on people by developing prosthetics.