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For most of her life, Jenin Teleron resisted a call to study nursing.

Hearing about the difficult work her mother, a nurse, faced daily made Teleron want to choose a different path.

“But when it came time to apply to colleges, it didn’t feel right to declare my major in any other field than nursing,” Teleron admitted. “If I had to narrow down the things I’m passionate about, the main thing I can think of is helping people. In my opinion, there’s no better profession for doing that than nursing.”

For her work ethic and passion for care, Teleron has been named Dominican University’s Lincoln Laureate Award recipient for the 2022-23 academic year.

The award, presented by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, celebrates students from four-year colleges and universities across the state who demonstrate excellence in academics, outstanding community service and “the Spirit of Lincoln” in overcoming obstacles to excel.

“I’m super-grateful I received this award because I know what it means to receive it,” Teleron said. “It symbolizes service, caring for people in your community and academic achievement. The fact that people believed in me, in the things I do, to nominate me really gives me validation.”

Teleron is a senior and transfer student who began her college career at Marquette University, but made the decision to return home to suburban Elmhurst in order to focus on her mental health and lean on family for support, she explained.

“My ultimate goal is to be a nurse and help people; how could I expect to help others when I’m not doing well myself?” Teleron reflected. “I had to put myself first so I could put other people as a priority as well.”

Teleron chose Dominican University to complete her nursing education based not only on the proximity to her home, but because of its quality nursing program, she said.

In nominating her for the Lincoln Laureate Award, senior lecturer Jonathan Uebelhor called Teleron “one of the strongest students in her class,” with a compassion to patient care that is “immediately evident and remains one of her biggest strengths.”

Denise King, acting executive director of nursing at Dominican, praised Teleron’s work during her pediatric nursing clinical this past summer at a Wisconsin Easterseals camp for children with disabilities.

“Jenin’s level of care, patience and compassion were unparalleled, she was a natural,” King wrote.

She added: “Jenin lights up when she is caring for patients, and in turn her patients beam. She truly lives to serve others with dignity, humility and honesty.”

After working at the camp for two weeks and providing nursing services to children with developmental and physical challenges, Teleron volunteered to stay on an additional four weeks as a camp counselor.

“The kids really taught me a lot, not only about their disabilities, how they view the world, and how they interact with each other, but about myself and how I interact with people and perceive the world,” she shared. “For that, I’m very grateful.”

Teleron currently holds a leadership role as president of Dominican’s Student Nurse Association and is planning volunteer opportunities for members. She is also a member of the university’s mentorship program, acting as a senior mentor to three junior nursing students.

Upon graduating in May, Teleron hopes to work as a pediatric nurse.

“I like working with this population because I’m aware that the things I do and say have the ability to change their lives,” she said. “You never know whether it might be something small or big, but you truly have an impact on these kids. That I have an opportunity to change their lives in some way really inspires me.”