Distinguished Graduates


The 2017 Distinguished Graduate award winners are: 

Distinguished Graduate – Community Service


Mrs. Haskell began her nursing career in pediatric nursing in 2005 after receiving her BSN from Florida State University. Afterwards, she worked a couple of years as a traveling nurse, moving from coast to coast, and finally landing in Denver, Colorado in 2009.  She has worked in most specialties in pediatrics including oncology, medical-surgical, orthopedics, pulmonary, cardiology, PICU, NICU, and the emergency department. Tara joined the Denver College of Nursing in November of 2014 where she has taught pediatric simulation, health assessment, and pediatric didactic classes. She also helped design and teach classes for the online RN to BSN program.

Tara is the Operations Coordinator for the Global Health Perspectives (GHP) program and has led International medical trips to Uganda and India with the GHP students. She coordinates local volunteer events, plans and delivers educational meetings on global health for the students and faculty, manages and interviews students seeking to go on international medical missions, prepares students for international medical internships all over the world, and volunteers locally as well.  

Tara received her Master's degree from Regis in 2014 with a duel focus in Nursing Leadership and Education. Tara graduated in 2005 with her BSN degree from Florida State University. 


Distinguished Graduate - Practitioner Category


Margaret E. Polk ('76), BSN, RN, NCSN has been a school nurse in the Pasco County School District in Florida for 26 years.  Margaret is a member of the National Association of School Nurses and the Florida Association of School Nurses (FASN).  She became a Nationally Certified School Nurse in 2001, and is currently employed as the school nurse at Pasco High School and as district support for emergency management and coordination of district CPR/AED and First Aid trainings.  

Taking care of kids is Margaret's primary goal, and she is skilled at finding resources such as, Pasco County's mobile medical unit, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, or the dental clinic at nearby R.B. Cox Elementary, so students get the care needed.  Margaret also enjoys making a difference by helping people. One of the ways she is making a difference is by overseeing the school's Assist, Believe and Care (ABC) program.  The ABC program provides aid to students and their families with clothing, school supplies, food and help with rent, and utility bills.

Margaret was recognized by FASN as the 2017 Florida School Nurse of the Year based on her volunteer work coordinating student services teams and advocating for the migrant families in the Dade City community. In addition to her work helping her community, Margaret has volunteered her expertise on district, state, and national committees.




Distinguished Graduate Award Winners Archive


Distinguished Graduate Awards Program


Purpose:  To recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of College of Nursing alumni for their outstanding contributions to the healthcare of patients, through nursing care, research and their demonstration of the ethics and values of the nursing profession.


Award Categories and Criteria:

  • Educator (University, Community College, and Practice Setting)
    • Should currently hold or has held a teaching or leadership position with a local, state or national professional educational organization; a post-secondary educational institution; or educational policy-making/review board.
    • Must have published articles, chapters, a book and/or a technical report that reflects scholarship, research or advancement of profession.
    • Must serve or have served as a representative/spokesperson of the profession in policy making with professional or political association at the state or national level.
    • Demonstrate a strong commitment to students and life-long learning, and enhancing his/her professional growth and that of others.


  • Government and Community Service
    • Should be actively involved in government and/or community service
    • Demonstrated exemplary contribution toward improving the quality of healthcare within their community through enhancing the capacity of the healthcare system.
      • Examples of activities may include:
        • Exemplary military service; government service at local, state and/or national levels (i.e. county commission, legislative staff); support for broad-based educational or school improvement plans; or community-school partnership activities.


  • Practitioner
    • Honors outstanding achievements in any area or level of nursing.
    • Demonstrate a strong commitment to the nursing profession and the continued enhancement of his/her professional growth.
    • Have the respect of peers and significant service contributions to the field of nursing at any level in either a practicing, educational or administrative capacity and to the betterment of his/her community.


  • Recent Alumni – Two awards will be presented in the following categories to recognize excellence and innovation in the delivery of healthcare services
    • Novice Nurse
      • Currently working, or for the past three years has worked full-time or part-time as a nurse providing quality, compassionate care. 
      • Community involvement and/or recognition


  • Young Alumni
    • Graduated in the last 4 -10 years
    • Exceptional career foundation or post-graduate academic accomplishments
    • Community involvement and recognition
    • Service to their Community, College of Nursing, and/or Florida State University


Nomination Process:

  • All nominees MUST be graduates of the Florida State University College of Nursing.
  • Nominees cannot be self-nominated.
  • Nominators can complete their nomination by mail, e-mail or fax to the Public Relations Manager.
  • Nominators should be prepared to submit the following information:
    • Names and contact information of both nominating and nominated persons
    • Statement of nomination in 150 words or less, explaining why the nominator feels the person is qualified
    • Current curriculum vita or resume of nominee
    • Three references and their contact information and at least one letter of reference.
    • Any documentation further supporting the nominee’s accomplishments and qualifications for the award (other letters of support, announcement of other recognitions, news articles, etc.)
  • Nominations will be accepted beginning February 1, 2018 and must be submitted by no later than May 1, 2018*.


*Please note: Nominations are kept active for three years.  If your nominee is not selected in the original year nominated, you may update any piece of their file to strengthen the nomination. Three years from the original nomination date, you must update the Letter of Nomination in order to re-activate your distinguished graduate award nomination.  Members of the Alumni Council are not eligible to be nominated for, or receive the Distinguished Graduate Award.


Distinguished Graduate Awards Selection Process:

Winners will be selected by the College of Nursing’s Alumni Council.



  • When the selection process is complete, nominees and nominators are notified of the results. Once all winners are contacted, results will be posted online.
  • Results can be accessed online or you may send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:
    • Distinguished Graduate Awards, Florida State University, College of Nursing, 98 Varsity Way, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4310.



  • Distinguished Graduates will be honored during the fall Homecoming activities and are required to be present in order to receive the award.  Individual winners will be contacted with details regarding the awards ceremony in early fall.  For further information, contact the Marilyn McGhee at 850-644-5983 or mmcghee@fsu.edu.


Submit completed nomination by May 1, 2018 to:

FSU College of Nursing
Attn:  Marilyn McGhee
98 Varsity Way
Tallahassee, FL  32306-4310
Fax:  850-644-7660
E-mail: mmcghee@fsu.edu


Distinguished Graduate Award Winners Archive

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