"Believe deeply in who you are as a person and nurse, and in the profound impact you have to influence the health and the lives of others and the nursing profession."
What kind of gift would make you feel truly thankful and appreciative? What would make you feel happy, blessed, and important? And what kind of gift would you like to share with others? Most of us are delighted to receive a gift from a giver who is motivated by love and passion rather than a sense of duty or obligation. When it comes to giving, motive matters. To derive genuine pleasure from generosity, one needs to be properly motivated.
Recently, I was lucky and felt very special to speak with Cathy Catrambone, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), in a brief conference call. She started the conversation by joking, “You are the king of social media,” and we both laughed. (Follow me on Twitter at @ilove_echo1987
.) She then reviewed her purpose for the call: to request my participation in contributing to a series of articles in Reflections on Nursing Leadership that would focus on the four major themes of her presidential call to action: influence through advocacy, policy, lifelong learning, and philanthropy. In this last of a six-part series on President Catrambone’s call, I am privileged to share my story—how I became a philanthropist at my young age and why I strongly support STTI.
Early life, nursing career, and STTI
I grew up in Malabon City
, located just north of Manila in the Philippines. Its low-lying, flat terrain is prone to frequent flooding, especially high tides, heavy rains, and overflowing dams. Funny thing is, you’re not a true-blooded Malabonian if you don’t know how to swim—literally—in floods. In fact, I earned a perfect grade of 1.0 (out of 5.0) in my physical education swimming class back in college! I spent my entire childhood in the always-flooded—but lovely—fishing town of Malabon. Today, our town is a little more progressive than before. I still live in my hometown.
I was not born into wealth, nor did my siblings and I taste the privileges accorded scions of the rich and powerful. My mother, Ednalyn Badua Gamiao, a homemaker, and my father, Dominador Pardillo Alicante, an electric motor rewinder, were both high school graduates but never earned college degrees. They were "born poor," as they say, but demonstrated for me the importance of discipline and hard work. I saw examples of it daily. I have three siblings—an elder sister and two younger brothers. All of us siblings are products of public-school education. My sister, Jonalyn Gamiao Alicante, was the breadwinner of the family for a time when my father lost his job, thus compromising his ability to earn a regular income. She is now an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Hong Kong, employed by a nurse. She is also my hero. I will never forget the day when she gave way for me to be able to study in college instead of her. She is one of the reasons I am a nurse today.
I was able to go to college through the collaborative efforts of my parents and close relatives. My aunt, Elsa Badua Gamiao, a registered public-school teacher in Vintar, Ilocos Norte—my mother’s hometown—pledged to support my college expenses. Another aunt, Nilva Gapuzan Gamiao, who has been a nurse in New Jersey, USA, for nearly two decades, promised to shoulder my college tuition fees. I still remember how I needed to squeeze the very little budget I had to make it through each week and not miss classes, but I managed to stay at the top of my class. I was a very competitive, hardworking, and diligent student. But there were failures that I experienced along the way. Those initial setbacks became my springboard to move forward and reach for my dreams. As an aspiring nurse, I learned that I needed to have passion and conviction to achieve my goals. I am fortunate to have a very supportive family environment and to have had two aunts—Elsa and Nilva—who assisted and encouraged me, always reminding me that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
As the first in my family to earn a college degree, I value those who worked hard to give me a brighter future. I knew poverty, and I understood how to be poor, but I saw wealth in education.
Early in my career as a nurse, I struggled to maintain a decent, good-paying job. Nurses in the Philippines can tell you a lot of stories—from being unemployed to being underpaid and unpaid for one’s services, from false volunteerism
to job mismatches and being undervalued as a healthcare professional. Only in the Philippines! I once entertained the idea that my family would have a splendid life because of my profession and that nursing could bring me to a greener pasture. But one day I realized that if I stuck to that mentality, I probably would go nowhere.
I sought advice from a former professor, who told me, “I’ve known you as a student since college, and you have very strong potential, so go ahead and get a master’s degree.” After acquiring sufficient practice experience in a hospital, I began working toward a Master of Arts in Nursing at University of Santo Tomas
, majoring in advanced nursing administration, while, at the same time, teaching in a university BSN program. I also started taking on various leadership roles. As a result, my nursing career has evolved, and I am now on the right path. In the process, I’ve encountered many industry leaders, some of whom are nursing pillars in the Philippines. I never expected that they would be my professors in graduate school.
Because I excelled in my master’s degree program, I was inducted into the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, Alpha Eta Chapter, at the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing
. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Making a global impact and paying it forward
After my 2014 induction into Alpha Eta Chapter
, I immediately felt the need to give back, both to Alpha Eta Chapter and to STTI. I consider my induction into STTI as one of the most important and life-changing events in my budding career as a nurse and am personally indebted. I wondered how I could show my gratitude to the prestigious organization that recognized my academic and leadership successes. I wanted to give back to the organization that showed trust in my abilities and potential. It was then that I came across the STTI Foundation for Nursing
The Sigma Theta Tau International Foundation for Nursing supports STTI through active fundraising and conscientious stewardship. If you are looking for an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the future of Sigma Theta Tau International and the nursing profession, consider giving to the Foundation. You will find yourself amazed by the number of ways you can support and positively influence the advancement of global health and nursing. One of those ways is the Virginia Henderson Fellowship Program
I am a proud Virginia Henderson Fellow, which makes me part of the Heritage Society
. As a Heritage Society member, I am able to support advancement of nursing science through research and leadership development of future generations of nurses.
The power of giving is in its selflessness. Giving from your heart and making a contribution because you want to share what you have and show your deep appreciation have dramatic impact. For that reason, I am honored to donate to STTI’s Research Grant
and Leadership Education Grant
programs. By giving to these programs, you touch the lives of those who receive these grants. I urge you to consider making such a gift
A few months after giving to the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, I wondered how I could be of greater help to my chapter. Realizing that serving as a board member is a great way to help the chapter while further developing my leadership skills in a supportive environment, I volunteered to join the board of Alpha Eta Chapter and was thankful when I was elected to the leadership succession committee for a two-year term.
I also decided to become a Billye Brown Fellow. The Billye Brown Fellowship
is one of the major gift opportunities offered by STTI Foundation for Nursing, one that significantly impacts nurses and nursing. My gift to the fellowship’s 21st Century Permanent Fund supports emerging initiatives such as the Global Advisory Panel on the Future of Nursing & Midwifery
(GAPFON) and Institutes for Global Healthcare Leadership
. By giving to this fund, I also give back to my chapter by designating that it receive 10 percent of my gift. In these and other ways—through the generosity of members, chapters, and other friends of nursing—the honor society is clearly positioned to carry out its vision to be the global organization of choice
How you can help
To build capacity for influence through philanthropy, President Catrambone suggests that we, as nurses, embrace two major strategies to guide our actions: 1) Contribute time and talent, and 2) make charitable donations.
Younger-generation nurses can help by advocating on behalf of the STTI mission and by sharing how they have benefited professionally from chapter and international involvement. If you have been inspired by a nurse colleague, professor, or nursing leader, consider honoring him or her by donating to the STTI Foundation. In 2015, on International Nurses Day, I made a commitment to make an annual donation to STTI Foundation for Nursing on behalf of my two loving aunts who supported my college education. Consider honoring your loved ones by giving to the Foundation.
There are so many things you can do to use your influence to advance global health and nursing. Your commitment to achieving the vision and mission of STTI—whether it be a gift of time, talent, or money—will positively influence our future and that of many others.
For a comprehensive list of strategies to achieve these worthy goals, click here to download Influence to Advance Global Health and Nursing
, a brochure outlining President Cathy Catrambone’s call to action. Let us join her in expanding STTI’s influence through philanthropy.
Jerico G. Alicante, RN, CNN, resident of Malabon City, Metro Manilla, Philippines, is a Virginia Henderson Fellow and a Billye Brown Fellow.